I recently read “The Marshmallow Test” by Walter Mischel, and was intrigued to learn that temptations, such as marshmallows or pizza or Vicodin or pornography, or anything that makes you feel good in a pinch really, all activate a “hot” part of the brain; the limbic system, including, specifically, the Amygdala. This hot part of the brain, according to the book, becomes more active conversely relational to the “cool” part of the brain; the prefrontal cortex, where all of we humans’ serious thinking about what’s good for us (especially in terms of future consequences) takes place. And this part of the book, this focus on the “hot” part of the brain started me thinking about what tempts me in my life. What causes my Amygdala to go haywire? And the answer I came up with, the biggest source of “hot brain irritation” if you will, for me, is women.
I love women. I love everything about them. Their smooth skin, their high voices, their spritely way of dancing in perfect tempo, their hair that smells like roses or ginger or pomegranate or other delectably scented parts of this world that I would never be able to name out of sheer male ignorance. I love it when they need help opening a jar or how they know exactly what to buy for me from the market when I’m sick. I love it when they quote their favorite author or stand on their tippy toes to grab the peanut butter off the top shelf in the cupboard. And of course, I love their bodies. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that I am obsessed or even possessed by their bodies. And this is where my hot brain and yoga pants (and every other tantalizing bit of clothing that women have nonchalantly but also astutely and carefully selected as their modern-day wardrobe) come into play. While some people’s hot brains are driven wild by sugary foods or mind-altering narcotics, mine (like the vast majority of straight men, I’d imagine) is heated to the temperature of a star’s core by women’s figures.
This fact, this weakness, this desire, is exacerbated tenfold when I’m out in public. I live in West L.A., and it seems that somewhere hidden beyond the city’s limits, there are factories churning out supremely attractive women of all ages. In these hidden factories, I surmise that these women must be kept on strict diets and exercised via spin and yoga classes twice a day, maintaining peak fitness. They’ve also seemingly been bred from perfectly compatible strands of DNA and as a result, are the platonic ideal of sexual appeal.
And what do these women wear out in public, covering up their maddeningly soft and tight and curvaceous bodies? Almost nothing. Short shorts. Even shorter short shorts. Loose fitting airy tops that are cut high at the bottom and low at the top. See-through sundresses with no more than a child’s fistful of fabric covering their sex organs underneath. And of course, skin-tight yoga pants that make already impossibly fit asses look like they were each painstakingly sculpted by Michelangelo himself.
So what happens when I see these women, these creatures of crushing beauty that already haunt me endlessly, in yoga pants and similarly emphasizing attire? Well, my hot brain goes mad. My hot brain sets off a smoke alarm and a security alarm and it roars like a lion at an intruder and it grabs the invisible strings that control my head’s movement and it points me right at them and it says “look at that! Look at that and forget about whatever else you were doing! I don’t care if you’re driving or eating or getting punched in the head by a mugger, turn and look you damn fool!” And of course, I do. Every time. Every time without hesitation or will power, I see a beautiful woman in tantalizing attire and I turn my head and fade into a realm of awe and simple idiocy.
Where’s the harm here though? Beautiful women should be able to dress however they’d like (of course) and men tripping over themselves to get an eyeful is nothing new. Well, the harm (and again, it’s not the fault of women), is that with my hot brain constantly throwing a fit over every attractive woman I spot, and there are so many, it’s difficult for me to concentrate on anything else.
Now here’s the point where a reasonable person would say, “this young man is blaming attractive women for his lack of productivity, and that’s a pretty lousy attitude for him to have.” And it is. But it still feels true nonetheless. I’m writing this exposé of my feelings because I need to deal with this problem. I’m constantly tempted by women—out on the street or on Tinder or Instagram or in class—and my hot brain is constantly sounding the alarm. And frankly, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being unable to focus on anything productive because all I can think about are women and how bad I want them.
I miss my prepubescent self. I miss the time before my hormones burst onto the scene and made women my number one priority by default from the moment I wake up (boy is it strong in the morning) until the moment I go to sleep (boy is it strong at night). I miss the time in my life when I wasn’t obsessed with women and sex. I miss the time when I was obsessed with Legos and comic books and Saturday nights with pizza and Nickelodeon. I miss the time when skateboarding occupied 95% of my waking thought processes, not women on top of women on top of women (figuratively and literally).
“Do something about your problem,” a reasonable person would say. And he’d be right. So I have. I’ve started taking Prozac. I’ve been on it before and I know it dulls my sex drive. And here I am, back on the SSRI train, because I need to focus on being a productive member of society, not just a sex-obsessed lust machine that cries out to the universe to allow him to feast on every attractive woman he lays his eyes on. Here I am, once again on Prozac, borne back against the currents of puberty, ceaselessly in search of that childhood boy’s mentality, which was driven by the conscious urge to create and invent art and gadgets, not by the unconscious desire to create children, for which I’m clearly in no way ready.