Eyes Up Here

Summer moves in. The heat makes me feel a little flushed, even when I’m doing nothing. Over the weekend, my downstairs neighbor moves out, and has the cable turned off, and as we shared his signal, my apartment goes wirelessfree. I walk around it and feel like it’s quieter. I go to the video store for the first time in months, because now I can’t watch TV at home on the computer. And in the first two days without internet I get more writing done than I’ve done in weeks. I work on an essay, a short story, a tv script and my novel. I go to celebrate a friend’s birthday last night and when I confess this to the table full of writers, they laugh and call me a name I can’t remember because there was so much wine poured after that.

I remember we talk about “book-store dopplegangers”, the writer we find if we go to the bookstore and our book isn’t there but theirs is. We talk also about what I call our “googlegangers”, people with our name who show up on our google searches. For me, it’s mostly an aerospace engineer. We sing the birthday song for our friend, and eat two kinds of an incredible dacquoise cake, made by our friend Bill, who is visiting from New York, where he works at the cookbook bookstore on the Upper East Side. We talk about how Hillary Clinton’s not the candidate we want but we dislike the crazy sexism in the way people are covering her, the focus on her appearance. I think of my mother, who has campaigned for her, who is a Clinton delegate in Maine and who makes phone calls for her. When I visited last week, she left to do that for two hours and when she came home she said that everyone she spoke to was thinking about the economy. A woman had been laid off after 23 years at the same company, and my mother talked to her about what was urgent for her as a voter, but also just talked to her. I know my mother will be devastated tonight.

Then talk at the table ends with me somehow telling a story about going to my first nude beach, in the Canary Islands, a part of a visit to see my grandfather, and we talk about nude beaches and the etiquette of “eyes up here” while you talk to someone who’s naked in public. Soon after that our party disbands and we all go home.

At the gym this morning, I run the cakes off. That and more, employing some new training method that, when I pause to think of it, reminds me of how my college crew coach trained me. In the locker-room, where I never usually know anyone, I find a yoga teacher I know locally, shaving at the sink, unconcernedly naked. He says hi and soon, like an episode from Seinfeld, I’m having an “eyes up here” moment. As I talk to him, and the conversation extends, I feel somehow like he’s waiting for me to look down and check him out. He does have a powerful, beautiful body, and I am impressed–I’ve never seen it like this. Some people do not look better in clothes. I do okay with my “eyes up here” until he does some sort of strange hip wiggle as he dries himself off. A few drops of water fly off of his dick, and as if in slow motion, before I can stop myself, we both watch as I look. I meet his eyes again and decide that I didn’t violate some sort of public scoping etiquette. But it’s evidently time for me to not talk to him anymore about his new class at the gym. I become impatient with my vague discomfort.

Have a great one, I say, and wave. See you later, he says, and turns to face the mirror again.

At the cafe later, I go online. I read too many blogs about media and politics, and when I see the post on Huffpo about how the campaign has been a bonus to media outlets, I decide to stop reading about them. It takes me another hour to go home to my internet-free apartment.


  1. There are days when I wish our house was Internet- and satellite-free. Like, all of them. It would make the job search a bit more challenging, but all of the writing I’d get done might be worth it. Without satellite, however, the boyfriend would be bouncing off the walls from boredom.

  2. that seinfeld routine about have a belt with thigh pockets for naked time is so classic

    also, there are probably few more ardent supporters than i, but i totally agree about the sexism

    interestingly, i almost feel like it’s been worse than the racism obama has face. perhaps, like homophobia, sexism is still more acceptable than racial prejudice… or maybe we have to wait till the general election to really see the racism come out

  3. JR: It’s so important that bfs don’t bounce out.

    Hunter: I somehow didn’t remember that Seinfeld! I just had the feeling of being in one. Now I want to go watch it.

    And yes, sexism is more acceptable socially than racism.

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