The Stare

So men do this thing (I’m afraid I can only speak for men here, I don’t know if women do it or not, I’ve never heard a girl mention it or seen them do it). They open a fridge and they do it. They light a fire, they do it. Stand them next to a window, they do it. Stand them on a hill top, they do it. Play them a certain song, they do it. Give them a minute before bed, they do it. Break their heart, they do it. Make them angry, they do it. Give them any sort of reason to pause, a man will do it.

Men stare.

Having 'A Stare' on a boat in Australia.

I noticed I started doing it at school, for no apparent reason other than to think for a minute. Then I started doing it more and more as I mulled over anything. It was as I got a little older when I noticed whenever there was a fire nearby I would stare for ages at it, barely a thought trickling through my head. All the above listed I have done of late and it is a very cathartic thing. Probably like when female friends of mine have stated having “a nice good cry” has a restorative effect, men like a nice good stare. I’m not sure what it accomplishes but you feel better after it. It seems to be a shared moment for men too. It’s infectious. Get one guy staring in a room and, sure enough, eventually every guy there will end up with a wide eyed, glazed look at some middle distant spot. It doesn’t necessarily mean we are in a bad mood, or upset, or pensive (though that can be the case) it can just have been a long day and I need a long stand in front of the open fridge, bathed in the warm amber glow of the door light and cold air emanating from within while I look for something I want but haven’t got to eat. Normally Giant Chocolate Buttons.

This is not to say women don’t stare. Contrary to popular belief, I have seen a women before. I lived with three for some years and I have caught them staring on the odd occasion but from my experience women do not seem to do it with the frequency of men and nor do I think the same mental/physical process is taking place. What I’m saying is, no real research has gone into this post I’m just thinking out loud.

I don’t know why I felt the need to write a post about this but I noticed I’ve been doing it a lot lately, mainly while reading, so figured it worth a mention. I never read about it anywhere else. It is hardly a secret. Men are often called ‘fire-gazers’ and God knows every man I know does it and I’m sure most women who have spent any time with Men have noticed it too. It is a peculiar phenomenon and I’m not sure what purpose, if any, it serves. I think it is just a moment for internal debate or to allow a mental process to reach a natural conclusion, Men being simple beings can only focus that kind of attention on one thing for so long so everything else takes a back seat. Men rarely ‘look’ when they stare. My Dad said most people when they look extend their internal selves outward, stabbing out from the eyes, to ‘look’ means to direct a gaze as opposed to absorbing the light and letting the world in. That’s what seems to happen when Men stare. The world falls in through the pupils. You are not actually looking at anything, the looking is a side effect of the staring.

And then, normally with a gentle but quick intake of breath, a few blinks, back to earth, the world comes hammering down and life restarts. I’ve had a few good stares recently and anyone who knows me knows I’m quiet enough as it is, so a good long stare for me is about three days. Anyway, my name is Leo Cookman and I Stare.

Having a good stare in New York

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