The Atlas of Human Attraction

The atlas of human attraction differs from the normal geographic atlas in several ways.

In the common type of atlas you can find your location on the earth’s surface and use it to see what interesting places and features are reachable.

In the atlas of human attraction you can only find where you are not, and this is made more complicated by the fact that as the years pass you will migrate like a Micronesian tribe from one fragile land mass to the next.

I first began to explore the atlas of attraction when I was eleven years old. One Sunday I was playing hot wheels with my friend, Paul, in his backyard. We were comparing the relative speeds of our Pontiac GTOs, when a commotion broke out in the house.

“That’s my cousins from Israel,” he said. He placed his GTO on the track.

“Ready, steady, go!” I said. We released the cars. Mine reached the end of the track first.

“You let yours go too early,” he said, then glanced at something over my shoulder.

I turned around. Three teenage girls had appeared. They had smooth caramel colored hair, butterscotch skin, and huge dark chocolate eyes. They were the most beautiful human beings I had ever seen. They squealed with delight and ran towards us. I happily braced myself like a rugby player falling on a ball, but they ran right past me.

The oldest one, who must have been about 17, lifted Paul onto her shoulders, and danced around the lawn. They swung him round by his arms, they swung him by his feet, they rolled him on the grass, tickled him, then carried him round and around.

I followed the happy group for a few minutes, but they acted like I wasn’t there. I said, “Can you carry me?” I couldn’t remember ever being carried or rolled about or swung around.

The oldest one looked at me. “No,” she said. “You are too big and heavy, and we are not strong enough.”

I watched them for a few more moments, mesmerized by the sight of a child being adored. After all we were British, and expressing adoration for children wasn’t our strong point.

I gathered up my hot wheels, and headed home.

I didn’t bother asking my mother if I was fat, as she probably would have said, “You don’t look like you’re about to starve,” which was on of her favorite quips.

I probably sat on my bed and gazed at my legs. I hated my legs. They were mottled pink and yellow, plus they were so fat they almost split the cuffs of my shorts. I could hardly see my knees. My legs merely bent about halfway down.

One or two boys in my class had begun wearing long trousers. I screwed up my courage and  asked my mother if I could wear long trousers. To my amazement she said “Okay.” She probably had the same same misgivings about my legs as I did, and a few days later my legs were hidden to the outside world.

I lay in bed, shut my eyes, and studied the atlas of attraction, specifically the page of being carried on the shoulders of a 17 year old Israeli girl. I had to be there somewhere, especially now I had long trousers, she wouldn’t realize I was heavy. Besides, I could breathe out when she lifted me up so I’d be lighter.

One day I asked my father if I had fat legs, and he told me I had strong legs. He wasn’t often right, but on this occasion he was. I really did have strong legs, and still do. They’re little on the short side, but I’m still proud of them. 

Much later I found out that orthodox jewish girls are actually forbidden from touching boys they aren’t related to. Not only was I not on that page in the atlas, I wasn’t even in the same atlas. Even so, I would gladly have traded my strong legs just to be adored by them for a single moment.