Beauty, Bike Commuting, Bike Shops, Black Panther, Buster Poindexter, Equality, Eye Candy, Gods and Goddesses, Heat, Heteronormative, Homophobia, Raleigh, Raleigh North Carolina, Respect, Sexism, Summer Time, Wakanda
Septembers in Raleigh tend to be hot and September 2020 followed the trend. The pre-sunrise low was seventy-five Fahrenheit but by 8:50 mercury had ascended to 80 as I hopped on my bicycle. It climbed another three degree as I covered my 16 mile scenic route ride from home to work.
Turning left into the bike-shop parking lot I nodded at the guy cutting our grass on the stand-up riding-mower before coasting to the back of the building to let my sweaty self in. My watch read 9:50 as I unlocked the door and as I deactivated our alarm I wondered if the afternoon’s predicted showers would provide me with the cool relief of a storm before I left work or subject me to a ride home accompanied by the sound and fury of donder and blitzen.
Once inside I showered, dried off, -how dry you gonna get when you’re still sweating?- got dressed and finished building the bike I’d started the night before. Slapping a helmet on my head I spun the bike around the lot and then down the street for a quick test-ride before heading back to the bike shop. As I returned I got a closer look at the man cutting our lawn. Sculpted ebony. Dude was hot in both senses of the word and as our eyes met we did that manly index finger pointing wave we guys do.
Back inside the haven of heavenly AC’d air I called the customer who was waiting for the bike, left a voice mail that it was built and she could pick it up after eleven. I grabbed the next bike in the queue and greeted our sales personnel as they trickled in for their 10:30 start time. After perfunctory and socially lubricating greetings and Q & A concerning subjective self assessment vis-à-vis our current states of being I hollered out, “Ladies, did you see the man mowing our lawn?”
“Say what?” Kristin asked. “See who?”
“I asked if you saw the lawn-mower man? He is Adonis reincarnated and you might want to take a peek. If you’re interested in that sort of thing. Can’t say anything about his face, got a mask on, but those arms and shoulders are black marble.”
Three of our youngish females found opportunities to fact-check my opinion of the man on the mower and they all concurred. He was hot in both the calienete y salsa meanings.
Six weeks later a woman walks into the shop fresh off the set of the latest Black Panther movie. She appeared a true Wakanda warrior with eyes, hair and a physique worthy of both a cross-country mountain-bike racer and a movie star. A COVID mask covered her face from chin to tip of nose but I’m confident my jaw dropped perceptibly as I saw her as she was truly a vision in form and luscious poetry in motion.
Heading back to the service department I whisper to my store manager, “Don’t let the boss hear me but their is a simply gorgeous woman at the front register. Gorgeous as in to die for.”
My boss raises an eyebrow, nods and says, “I’ll be sure not to tell him,” as he finishes his task at hand before sauntering to the front of the store to perform a necessary task. A short while later he returns and says, “Dude? Really? I had no idea.”
“Hot is hot regardless of color,” say I, “and she is sizzling.”
As we both returned to our respective duties I wondered why I’d felt completely comfortable sharing news of male eye candy with the women but felt the need to be on the downlow when doing the same with a man in regards to a beautiful woman. I rejected the notion of proximity as the cause for my discomfort, that somehow her nearness might inadvertently allow her to hear me and take offense over my brief exchange with my manager because we had spoken quietly to avoid being overheard.
My words, while objectifying, had been respectful and I had spoken in the same vein concerning both the Wakandan Warrior and Lawn Mower Man. Whether discussing a stranger’s appearance is appropriate or not the observations were equal and I had felt no stab of conscious when telling my female coworkers there was a hottie in proximity as I had when speaking to another man concerning a woman.
My observations may or may not have been inappropriate but they were not sexist. They were, however, heteronormative. Yes, I alerted the women to the attractive man’s proximity but when I did so I’d spoken in a Buster-Poindexter, stereotypical, over-the-top voice. (Did you figure that out before I confessed?) I’m comfortable enough in my sexuality to point out attractive men to others but feel a need to make it a game while my observation concerning a beautiful woman to another heterosexual male required nothing but respect to make our conversation comfortable for the two of us.
Sexist? I don’t think so. A bit homophobic? Yah, I think I have to plead guilty to that one. I’ll keep working on it. (And enjoying looking at the lovelies with whom I come in contact.)