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10:02 a.m. - Friday, Oct. 05, 2007
Adventures in Chemistry
Let us now speak of that elusive, mysterious, unpredictable and sometimes embarrassing thing called chemistry.

Imagine, if you will, a man who says he is going to be 60 in five months and by his own count has four teeth in his head and no intention of getting any more.

But imagine also that such a man has been a professional roofer for 30 years and consequently has a physique that many twenty-somethings can't match.

And suppose that you've watched such a man, day after day, run gracefully up and down and over and over your roofs — house roof, garage roof, shed roof — and suppose he wears his favorite broken-in "roofing" jeans, which have molded themselves to his muscular legs, and suppose the weather is unseasonably hot, so he also wears these skimpy ripped t-shirts that show off his bulging biceps and his ridiculously trim waist.

And suppose you've been playing around with his magnetic sweeper, or hanging around the front yard with your dogs, while this guy is taking one of his smoking breaks (yes, I forgot to mention he's a heavy smoker). Suppose he's fussed over your dogs and voiced their thoughts in a most amusing fashion, and sent you into gales of laughter with his stories about the various ways in which he's fallen off roofs, or gotten into fights on top of them.

Now, tell me: supposing all of this, could you imagine yourself with a serious case of the hots for this guy? And would you be surprised?

Well, I've got one, and I am. Surprised because I rarely feel that kind of interest in anyone, let alone a nearly-toothless nearly-60-year-old chain-smoker. I feel interest so rarely that I've had a hard time even remembering what it felt like to be in lust or in love. So rarely that I've taken to thinking of myself as asexual — I dimly remember having a sex drive when I was a teenager and an early-twenty-something, but it has become faded and bleached-out and threadbare and I had finally thrown it in the garbage and it had been hauled away to the landfill, or so I thought.

On the other hand, this chemistry thing almost always surprises me. It never chooses a suitable object of attraction for me, and it has chosen such a wide range — a not-too-bright doper; a Russian engineer with a charming accent and deep brown eyes; a radical Political Science professor who was (a) not conventionally handsome and (b) openly gay; a folksy, bespectacled attorney. Among others even more transient than these. Always married or gay or just too damn stupid to contemplate a future with. Never a nice, marriageable man, and never the roguish bad boy we women are supposed to want.

And now Mr. Muscles and Gums.

It's a damn good thing he's married, too; otherwise I would be obliged to jump his bones and all four of his teeth.


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