Everywhere Carl Bosch looks, he sees guys who just want to be noticed.
Walking down a midtown Manhattan street I approach a crosswalk and the stop sign is flashing. I wait at the curb with a gathering crowd. People do the usual thing, wait patiently, not talking, maybe a cell phone here or there. We don’t talk to each other, just minding our own business. Then a lizard sidles up right next to me, a foot from my face. Well, a man and his lizard. On his shoulder. In Manhattan. On the street.
Now I have nothing against lizards. They’re kind of interesting in a post dinosaur, reptile zoo kind of way. But I’m immediately thinking about this guy. Did he leave his home this morning and say something to his wife or girlfriend or roommate like, “Hey, I’m gonna take Susie for a walk.” So he parades around the city with a huge lizard attached to his shoulder? Does he think we don’t notice? Hell, if he had a cute dog we’d notice, does he really think we’re not paying attention to a good-sized lizard, a whole lot longer and greener than any Yorkshire terrier. Is he going to work? To Starbucks? To get a haircut?
Suddenly, the leathery creature starts to meander down his shirt toward the back of his jeans and eventually, the sidewalk. The guy grabs Susie and readjusts her back near his neck. I wonder some more. Do lizards run? Do they bite? I can see Susie getting squished by a sanitation truck. Or worse, I imagine myself in a convenient medical care facility somewhere in midtown… “Yes, doctor, I’m serious, a lizard bit me on my face while I was standing on the corner of 42nd and Fifth Avenue.”
Really, dude, the only reason you have that lizard is because you want to show off. You want us to notice you. You want us to wonder what your story is, how you can have such a little beast and how totally cool it makes you look. Or at least you think it does. You can’t have a dog or a cat, or a rabbit or a gerbil, a mouse, a parakeet? No, you have to have a huge reptile with no leash. If it were legal, you’d walk down Broadway with an ocelot on a chain. Or an elephant. What is it you need from us?
I’m reminded of the gym where I work out, and other every fitness gym I’ve ever seen. Wherever the heavy weights are, there are walls and walls of mirrors. At every turn—mirrors. Now you can preach to me all you want about observing proper weightlifting technique, or self-assessment, but I’m not so sure. It always seems to me that guys are lifting, pumping and showing off… for themselves, for other guys, for the mirrors. They check out their arms and turn this way and that always keeping an eye on their bodies. But it’s the guns they peer at more than anything else. Flex that bicep. Check it out.
Sure, lots of men want to simply blend into the background. But there are a whole lot who really do. Want to be noticed, that is.
Armani and Brioni suits cost about the price of a cheap car. Don’t tell me the men who wear them don’t want to be noticed. And on the opposite end, when middle-aged men with a bit of paunch don their black leather, sunglasses, a dew rag and maybe sport a white beard, straddle their Harley’s and go on a Sunday run, they don’t want to be noticed? Really?
Don’t tell me guys don’t preen. Me, too. Most just do it quietly.
Young men do their hair…over and over and over. They get that little Abdow Big Boy flip just so. We whiten our teeth. Get quiet tattoos in discreet places (or lately not so quietly). We all want to be the center of the universe, even if that universe is small, or different or weird. We want to be noticed.
Just mind the lizard.
Photos courtesy of author