In high school English with Faith Toperoff, I paid attention.
Bridges of Madison County was just released in theatres (surprisingly I hated that movie almost as much as I hated The English Patient). Faith talked about “seexy.” She said seexy is when a man engages in a feminine act. When a man changes a diaper and takes special care with the powder: seexy. When a man is tender and nurturing with a garden, with a child, with a heart: seexy. When he braids her hair or rubs her back: seexy. Sexy is nurturing and sometimes selfless.
In “The Pleasure of the Text,” Roland Barthes compares writing to seduction, a body of text to the body of a woman. To seduce is to hold back, to offer a glimpse of wrist between a sleeve and glove, just a peek of skin. Writing should taunt the same way. It should be unexpected, like a drag queen in daylight. “The text that imposes a state of loss, the text that… unsettles the reader’s historical, cultural, psychological assumptions, the consistency of his tastes, values, memories, brings to a crisis his relation with language.” Good writing, good seex even, challenges conventional subjectivity. It’s tenderness or brashness when it’s least expected.
Today, I was seduced by a hairdresser.
He washed my hair in a regular sink; there was no support for my neck. He cradled my head in his strong hands, as if it were the world. Massaging my stress, colliding against points I didn’t know I had, small knobs and knots were worked out, with strength and tenderness. I strained my neck trying to weigh less. I felt the heat of his hand on the nape of me as he commanded, “Let go. I can handle it.” Why can’t straight men say that?