Eye candy is a wonderful treat, Marcus Williams writes, but don’t ruin it by trying to lick it.
One of my traits, which I believe is shared by most men (and more than a few women) is that I’m always on the lookout for some good eye candy. It’s not so much an intentional lookout as simply a biological reflex to notice good-looking women. To me, “eye candy” is a useful phrase for describing what I consider to be harmless ogling of the opposite sex. (The degree and duration of ogling is inversely proportional to the likelihood of being caught looking, but that’s another article.) Eye candy is savored by the eyes, mind, and imagination and should only be shared in ways that don’t insult either the eye candy, or people you’re with.
Examples of proper eye candy etiquette:
- At a hockey game with a buddy (quietly): “Hey, check out the blond in the red sweater sitting at the end of the second row over there.”
- In bed with a woman: “Forgive me for staring, but you have an amazing body, and I just can’t keep my eyes off of you.”
Examples of improper eye candy etiquette:
- At a hockey game with wife/girlfriend/date (quietly or otherwise): “Hey, check out the blond in the red sweater sitting at the end of the second row over there.”
- In bed with a woman: “Forgive me for closing my eyes, but I was thinking about that blond in the red sweater. You know the one – I pointed her out earlier.”
Several years ago when my first marriage had recently ended in divorce, my father invited me on a cruise, and I jumped at the opportunity. The clientele on the cruise line favored by my father were mostly older than me by 20 or more years, so there wasn’t much in the way of eye candy for a hot-blooded young man like myself to get excited about. However, the crew included an astounding array of hot-bodied young women. If Playboy ever did a special issue on the women of this cruise line, I’d not only be among the first to buy a copy, I’d also buy a backup copy to put somewhere for safekeeping in case something should happen to the first copy. So many beauties: the dancers, the Salon staff, the stewardesses, the bar staff…and the chief concierge. Ah yes, I remember her well.
I noticed the chief concierge early on and enjoyed looking at her from afar, but couldn’t come up with any good reason to approach her. I had my usual fear that if I just tried talking with no excuse, regardless of what I might come up with, it would translate into, “Hi, I’m a geek who thinks you’re pretty. Please reject me.”
I didn’t know the chief concierge’s name, and did not think it polite to walk up to her, say, “Hi, what’s your name?” and walk away. Nor did I think it would make a good impression to go over, stare at her chest (to read her name tag, of course) and then walk away. Sure, I could have asked any number of people what her name was, or found it out with some other minimal effort, but my first impression of her spawned a nickname that stuck.
I had been chatting with my dad in a lounge near the lobby one day early in the cruise, and she came to a nearby desk to handle some bit of business. She was attired in a typically conservative, non-revealing uniform, with her long dark hair pulled back into a tight bun, and glasses. My immediate impression was that even in this get-up, she was high-quality eye candy, and the professional exterior couldn’t hide that. My comment to my dad (using proper eye candy etiquette, of course) was, “Hey, Dad, you know how in a lot of porno scenes, they try to make some knockout sex goddess look plain by making her a librarian with glasses and a bun, but you can tell she’s not plain, and after 20 seconds it’s all off and she’s totally gorgeous? That’s what she reminds me of.” Her nickname thereafter: “20 Seconds.”
Past the midway point of the cruise, I finally had the occasion to meet 20 Seconds. All shore excursions were accompanied by a chaperone—some crew member whose job it was to be the brains of the operation, because it’s a known fact that once a guest steps off the ship, he or she loses all ability to function without a babysitter. The chaperone counted heads, loudly announced any sightings of uneven walking surfaces, loose stones, and other walking hazards, and answered a lot of stupid questions from people who weren’t paying attention to stuff they already announced. 20 Seconds was the tour chaperone in Grand Cayman, where I’d signed up to “Snorkel With Stingrays.” The “snorkel” part of the tour description turned out to be a misnomer because the stingray encounter actually involved walking around in very shallow water (like 3-4 ft.) with masks, but the part that the description left out was that it also involved 20 Seconds in a bikini. I could not have picked a more perfect tour on which to have 20 Seconds as a chaperone.
Tour chaperones could dress more casually than on regular duty, so 20 Seconds had a different look than usual. Her dark hair was released from the usual bun. Her shorts and tank top gave her a “beach casual” look (as opposed to “beach trampy”), and instead of the usual glasses, she had on a stylish pair of sunglasses. The name mystery was solved when she introduced herself to the group as Tanya.
This was my best opportunity yet to enjoy Tanya as eye candy, but also my first opportunity to have any conversation with her. I’m not good at striking up conversation from scratch, but I am OK when stuff is going on to observe and make wisecracks about. It may be lame, but at least it’s stuff to say. I kept within discrete ogling range of Tanya (opaque sunglasses help a lot with discrete ogling), and bided my time, waiting for an opportunity to make my opening statement.
There was a bus ride on which the driver loudly serenaded us with calypso tunes, and then a boat ride to the stingray site. When the boat arrived and the anchor was being secured, everyone started peeling down to their swimsuits to go pester some stingrays. On the opposite side of the boat from me, I saw 20 Seconds—excuse me…Tanya—take off her shorts and tank top to reveal an eye-popping purple bikini. When she was facing away from me, I could see a tattoo just poking above the top edge of her bikini bottoms, but I couldn’t make out the design from that distance.
Nearer at hand, like maybe four feet away, was an older woman who I had come to think of as Ms. Random. She talked a lot, to anybody who would listen, even if that meant herself. For most of the boat ride, she had soliloquized on the importance of being prepared and properly supplied when venturing into the wilderness, as we were about to do. She emphasized things like having water, sunscreen, and a coat, because you never know when you might get stuck in the woods, far from help. Have you ever seen a bear kill a moose? You might. A coat could come in handy if that happened.
While I was straining for a clearer look at Tanya’s tattoo, Ms. Random had removed her outerwear to reveal a rather homely one-piece (thank god) bathing suit with a sort of tutu-skirt thing. She surveyed herself and announced to no one in particular, “I’m all white and pasty.” Unfortunately, she had spoken the truth, so there wasn’t much response to offer. Hearing none, she added, “Oh well, I don’t mind.” At which point I finally responded with, “I’m pretty sure the stingrays won’t mind, either.” I got away with it because I was only going along with what she’d just said herself.
As the other guests started getting into the water, I hung back a little. Specifically, I hung back where I could be just behind Tanya in line. From this vantage point, I could see that the tattoo peeking up into the small of her back was a small rose. I seized the opportunity: “Do you mind if I kind of follow you around once we’re in the water? I’m hoping I might luck out and get to see whether that rose has a stem.”
Stupid, stupid, stupid. I knew that almost before I’d finished saying it. It had cheesy pick-up line written all over it, but my only actual goal was to make her laugh. Amazingly enough, it worked. She laughed, and I got to follow her around making more jokes. I also discovered that if there was a stingray three feet to the left of her, I could stick my facemask underwater like I was looking straight at the stingray, and with a little shift of the eyes, enjoy some magnificent eye candy three feet to the right. (Maybe I wasn’t as discrete as I thought, but if she had any suspicions, she never busted me.)
When the stingray tour was over, I went back to not being able to think of any excuse to approach her and chat, but I at least had the feeling of knowing her enough to be able to make eye contact when we were in the same vicinity, and exchange little how-you-doin’ bobs of the head. She was still 20 Seconds, but she was also Tanya.
I considered telling her about my nickname for her, but couldn’t think of a way to phrase, “You remind me of a librarian in a porno,” that would come off as the compliment I meant it to be. No—safer to just write about it later and maybe let her read about it online, where she might be flattered, and if she wasn’t, she couldn’t slap me.
The story would end there, except Tanya stunned me a few days later when she was leaving for vacation before the cruise was over. I knew she was leaving, so I approached her to wish her a happy vacation and let her know I’d enjoyed having her around. I said, “I hope you have a great vacation, but before you leave, I just want you to know that you were my favorite tour chaperone. If you ever sign up to chaperone another snorkeling tour, I may book the cruise just for that tour.”
She started to walk away, but looked back over her shoulder and added as a casual afterthought, “Oh, and by the way…”
“The rose does have a stem.”