This finely-sculpted Adonis prefers to keep his shirt on, thank you very much.

April 18, 2011

One of our neighbours likes to kick a soccer ball around the street while topless.

Under normal circumstances I might be too busy gawking to blog about this event except for the fact said neighbour is, as it turns out, male.

His name is Daniel and, if I tend to roll my eyes in disgust at his near-nude gambolling, Viking Woman and her fellow members of the Main Street chapter of the Women Who Wine Society have been known to become instantly transfixed by this fellow’s lewd antics.

Their knees grow weak, their eyes swell to saucer-like proportions, their verbal skills are reduced to little more than long sighs, and, for some strange reason, their breathing resembles gasping.

Frankly, I don’t see the attraction. Oh, I suppose, in the right light and on a good day, Daniel might be considered somewhat attractive. If, you know, one appreciates men who are darkly exotic in that fandango-inducing way South American men – in this case, Chilean – tend to be.

Fortunately, Daniel is also a nice fellow, a good neighbour and a loving husband and father. Otherwise, I’d have to dismember him and bury the assorted parts under the nikau palm in our back garden.

I’m pretty sure Viking Woman is winding me up when she goes all Lady Ga-Ga extolling the virtues of Daniel’s hairless, chiselled torso. After all, it’s not like I haven’t admired the occasional female form in my time. Of course, being a man, I’m not as choosy as Viking Woman and her cohorts, who seem to require a certain degree of perfection before their blood begins to bubble.

I’m more old-school in terms of what attracts me: Does she have a pulse? Yes? Then she’ll do.

Yes, I’m almost positive this is all good-natured ribbing, designed to keep us veterans of the marriage wars on our toes. After all, when it comes right down to it, the essential difference between Daniel and myself is that he has a job. Put a paycheque in my hand and we’d pretty much be twins.

That was my thought process until yesterday, when Viking Woman returned from a quick visit next door. I knew something was up because her cheeks were flushed a slight crimson and she was having a very hard time concealing a very large grin.

“What’s up with you?” I asked, in that annoyed-but-concerned tone husbands employ.

“Daniel just told me I’m looking good these days,” she replied.

Oh.

Really.

Whenever Viking Woman tells me I’m a truly talented writer, I shrug off the compliment and inform her wives and mothers are supposed to say things like that, which is why I tend not to put much weight in her opinion. Needless to say, she is never happy to be the object of my shrugs.

Apparently that rule of thumb does not work both ways, however. For example, I have informed my wife on several occasions that she is a beautiful specimen of all that is female. Most of the time she simply points to her ear and then carries on mowing the lawn.

But now Daniel – he of the sculpted abs and dusky charm and perfect smile – says the very same thing and suddenly she is struck giddy? Like his opinion is more important than mine?

Well, well: isn’t that interesting.

The very next time some sweet young thing informs me how much she enjoys my skills as an alchemist – how I transform words into emotions – I’m going to turn to Viking Woman and flash her one of those ‘it-works-both-ways-baby’ looks.

I’m sure she’ll understand. But I’m going to duck and cover anyway, just in case something is lost in translation.

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