Moments in Time: Flinch
If you’re a boy you know this move—call it the Good Girl Flinch.
You start to encounter it in your tender teens when you find yourself negotiating the rules around a girl’s body. The Flinch usually happens when you get anywhere near the zipper of her jeans or the hem of her skirt or the hooks of her bra.
It’s a simple reflex. A sideways-backwards frisson of no. Maybe it’s accompanied by a verbal “no” or a gentler “not now.” Sometimes your hands get pushed away. Sometimes gently, sometimes with true regret. Sometimes with an unspoken but implicit “Not likely, my friend.”
You know the Flinch. You hate it. But you know it.
Which is why, if you are a boy, nothing can compare to the antithesis of the Good Girl Flinch. And no matter when it first happens to you—teens, twenties—it is a moment when you stand in the sunshine of your maleness and you remember that girl forever. Because she said “yes.”
You remember that girl who pushed her hips towards you. She is the girl, when you went for her zipper or hem or buttons, whose hands were ahead of yours. Who unzipped or unbuttoned, pulled down or pulled up and invited you in. Who wanted you to go there, was excited for you to go there and possibly two steps short of begging for you to go there. She will forever stand in the pantheon of your personal goddesses and be the unconscious baseline for every girl who jumps your bones ever after. Nothing is like it. Nothing. Except…
Except fast forward thirty years and fifty pounds and a greying head later. When you are comfortably put out to pasture in your marital circumstances and the days of your bones being jumped are over. The Good Girl Flinch is a dim memory and your wife’s hips pushing in your direction are as familiar to you as the coffee cup you pour every morning. And it’s not bad. Maybe it’s not terribly imaginative but that’s nobody’s fault. External demands are high, time and energy are often in short supply. Eleven o’clock at night usually isn’t the time either of you are in the mood but it happens to be the time you’re in the same room and horizontal. So you do it and it’s not bad. It’s good and more often than not it is magnificent, thank you very much. And even when it’s not, it’s home. And you are blessed. Except…
Except you find yourself one day standing with a woman. A different woman. A woman you’ve know for some years and always admired in an unfraught way. She’s brilliant and beautiful, but she’s married. And sort of a bit younger than you are, not that it matters. And it doesn’t suck to look at her. And lately it seems a teasing familiarity is seeping into your conversations. And she’s getting older with you but it seems she is one of those maddening women who only grow more beautiful as they age while you could swear you are falling apart. Yet she looks at you in a way that rings some far-off bell in the cathedral of your youth.
Has she always been so funny? So mildly affectionate with you? She rarely touches you but her smile seems to caress you. She looks in your eyes and you forget what you were saying. You find yourself looking forward to the days you’ll see her even as you are terrified of the days you’ll see her. You don’t know where your game is, much less if your head is actually in it. And why are you even thinking about your game? Where is your head? You’re happily married. You love your wife, your children are your pride and joy. You have a good life. This isn’t a midlife crisis, this isn’t the winter of our discontent seeking one last glorious spring, this isn’t about it being your forty-eleventh birthday soon.
Or is it her? And is it an echo of the antithesis of the Good Girl Flinch, ricocheting off your memory and coming back to soothe your sulking ego and plant the germ of an idea in your mind. For here is this woman, this beautiful woman confidently past her thirty-thirteenth birthday. Slender as a minaret and smelling faintly of oranges. A woman who was once a young boy’s goddess. A woman who could still stand in a bar and take numbers and take her pick. But she’s not.
She’s standing next to you.
Standing quiet as a morning, asking nothing but your company. And when she turns to say something her hand lifts to touch your arm and you shy away, just like your girlfriends of yore.
She smiles. Her hand becomes a fist and it pounds your bicep twice.
“Two for flinching,” she murmurs.
And you are all at once sure, sure as the coffee cup you pour every morning, that the bell is tolling for thee. And were you to take her in your arms, and slide your hand down the curve of her waist and over her belly and hook your fingers hesitantly on the button of her jeans, this good woman would push her hips towards you and say, “Yes.”
photo credit: 5oulscape