I have a specific example to support that; I’m not just speaking in the abstract.
This weekend I coveted a cartoon character. A cartoon character at a little girl’s third birthday party. No, I am not a sick freak. I am a man.
The cartoon character in question was Dora the Explorer. Now normally Dora is simply not my type. She’s a little kid, first of all, and I’m not the King of Pop or anything. Plus, she consorts with monkeys wearing boots and lives in a jungle, so I’m pretty sure she has some exotic diseases. Also, she’s pretty wound up with her daily adventures with finding her way around this jungle with a map and her magic backpack and avoiding a kleptomaniac fox (apparently of some breed of fox that lives in the jungle) and speaking about as much Spanish as my Dad ordering more chips at the local Mexican place. So there’s just no chemistry is what I am saying.
But the Dora the Explorer who turned up at this kid’s party was a departure from the cartoon Dora. This was a children’s party held at one of those play-space places you can rent for the afternoon; it’s stuffed with padded climbing equipment and fanciful vehicles and ball pits and everything necessary to get the kids so wound up you have to give them a few hundred mics of ketamine to make them nap afterwards. My wife’s coworker held her kid’s party there, and despite it being the day before I was supposed to start trial, I got dragged along, because I have no free will.
It was pretty dull until we heard Dora was coming to the party. Apparently they hired a Dora impersonator to come and play with all the kids and lead them through the sort of adventures Dora goes through on TV, minus the actual boot-wearing bug-eyed suspiciously attentive monkeys. How sweet and entertaining for the children, we thought. The kids were all very excited.
Then the Dora showed up. She wasn’t short and stubby like the cartoon Dora, who has foreshortened limbs and huge freakish quasi-anime eyes. The Dora impersonator was mid-height, lithe, and athletic. She dressed like Dora in little shorts and a skimpy T-shirt. She had the legs for those shorts and any other shorts that the mind of man could imagine. Clearly she had made some effort to restrain her body with a stern bra, lest she spoil the Dora effect, but the impact was wasted — she had a rack. A fetching, perky, athletic rack. She was wearing a rough-cut black wig like Dora, but the effect was like playing naughty dress-up rather than cartoonish. The Dora impersonator was a babe. If Boots the monkey had been there, he would have been engaging in the sort of kitten-killing activity that real monkeys do unabashedly at the zoo.
I felt badly for coveting this Dora impersonator. I thought that it made me a sick freak. Then I realized that as I was standing watching her performance with rapt attention while my son beat another child about the face with Thomas the Tank Engine and my daughter attempted to strangle herself with the door of a kid-sized fire engine, all the other fathers were as well. There was a little knot of men gazing upon her as she entertained the mostly disinterested children. They all looked as if they approved. The wives looked like they liked the idea of Dora in the abstract, but as the performance wore on and the men continued to scrutinize her costume for any possible departures from the Dora cannon, the wives’ gazes took on that flinty and imminently vengeful look with which girlfriends and wives view women who dress immodestly in public. Dora had been greeted warmly by the women, but got the boot soon after her performance, shoved out the door into the rain with a plate of cake. Most of the men waved goodbye.
Now I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t watch Dora videos with my son any more.
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