By Stillman Brown
The world is going to shit. George Packer observes that “Religiosity-as opposed to religion-now completely infects our politics,” the earth isn’t being saved fast enough, and the Colts have no chance of winning the Super Bowl. Am I writing about these critical issues? No. I’m writing about something relevant. I’m writing about girls.

I’ve heard that, in the course of a lifetime, gossip consumes nearly 75% of one’s total social communication. Between me and my guys, 90 percent of our gossip concerns girls and we cover all the bases: psychology, strategy and realpolitik, and, more recently, the sensitive economics of dating in New York (She wants to go to a $40 per plate bistro, I can afford ramen and tea). I think most observers would be surprised by the quality of our deliberations – for the past two weeks my friend Donnie and I have had a running discussion about empathy in potential girlfriends. Our insight: It’s important.
If you live in New York you know what I mean – the streets are choked with fit, well-kept, attractive people, both male and female. When I first arrived in New York three years ago, I found it hard to walk down the street without being thrown in to erotic convulsions. The sheer public hotness was distracting. Thankfully, it’s been getting better and I like to think meditation has helped. I wrote this bit a couple of months ago en plein air, so to speak.

The girls. They are everywhere on this island. I can see one, right now, from where I sit on a shop bench at the corner of Mulberry and Bleeker. It is evening, and across the street the sun is setting a red brick and wrought iron building on fire. She has black hair, bob cut like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, one black boot on the Bleeker subway station railing, the other in the street, her slim body zig-zagged into an impossibly tantalizing shape. Like a crazy straw for drinking sex.
They run all varieties and I’m an equal-opportunity gazer; Punk, preppy, Betty Boop, cyclist, hipster, Wall St. pin stripe suit, yoga instructor, ballet dancer, disillusioned Midwesterner, and, of course, waif-like model. There are lots of would be Cover Girls floating around, with one cubic centimeter of stiletto touching the sidewalk. They used to drive me first to euphoria, then grinding frustration.
These days, I’m training myself to have an aesthetic-sexual experience instead of the other way around. Still, when I get hit with 4 or 5 in quick succession, my mindfulness training breaks down and I want to scamper after them and drool on their high heels like a god damn dog. I flatter myself that I’m not creepy about it. My strategy is: be direct with your gaze, don’t shun eye contact, and let your eyes say, by way of an apology, “I’m looking at you because you’re gorgeous.” Chances are, they already know.
David Cross said it best: In New York, “You are constantly faced with this very urgent, quick decision you have to make about every 20 minutes. You have to decide immediately… ‘Oh my god. do I look at the most beautiful woman in the world or the craziest guy in the world? Look at her, she’s fucking beautiful, but look at him! He’s wearing orange footy pajamas and he’s got tin foil on his head and he’s playing a Casio, but look at her she’s amazing – ‘”
I opt for the girl every time.
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