Without fail, this is heralded as “sundress season,” that time when cat calls and the male gaze greet the shape of a woman’s shoulders, collarbone, clavicle, whatever. But let us for a moment follow the direction of the female gaze to the only body part that could possibly rival the erotic implications of a woman in a sundress: a man’s ankle, glimpsed peeking out from his pants.
That’s right. Women, gird your loins; carry extra hankies for all that drool. Mankles season is upon us.
An example: At a recent happy hour with a guy friend, I mentioned that another friend (attractive, female, single) might be joining us. His response: “Julia’s coming by? Let me take my socks off.”
No. Not a metaphor. His socks weren’t, like, pre-knocked-off by the promised appearance of a hot girl or something. He actually bent down at the bar, where other people could see him, removed his socks, put his shoes back on, and readjusted the cuff on his pants to maximize ankle exposure — the same way I’d remove my cardigan and readjust my cleave to impress a potential suitor.
“What?” he said, while repositioning himself to fully present his ankles to approaching women, “I gotta show off my ankles. My Achilles’ tendons are hotter than hell.”
When it comes to the sexy tendon scale: Yes, there is something seductive about the anxious pulsing of the extensor tendons on the top of a hand mid-action. And anyone who doesn’t get a little hot and bothered at the display of the virile pop of the wrist’s Palmaris longus tendon might actually be dead. But all pale in comparison to the sensual siren song of the Achilles’ tendon along the back of a well-shaped mankle.
In the Victorian era, just the simple glimpse of a forbidden ankle was enough to bring on fits of frenzied, wild-eyed lust: A sliver of flesh that draws the eye, capable of launching the dirtiest of fantasies. When confronted with the statue of David, who is actually staring at his marble man-tush? No, it’s those sculpted ankles.
We have finally found ourselves in the brief, magical weather phase between winter and face-meltingly hot summer. The time when a certain kind of man — one who isn’t ready to commit to shorts but wants to throw off winter and let his flesh feel the sun — is ready to roll up his cuffs and show off what might be the most erogenous part of his leg, if not his entire body. Delicate, graceful, yet responsible for powering a strong muscular leg to, say, run to someone’s arms in the throes of passion, or leap into a bed in another throe of passion. A part that is both strong yet delicate, like the body’s D’Angelo ballad.
No more is the ankle the exclusive province of style-conscious men in Thom Browne suits and sharp lace-ups. (Still sexy.) Now there’s an ankle for all types. Perhaps he’s a rebel, rejecting the trappings of convention that are standard white athletic socks. Perhaps he’s a man ready for any aquatic activity that might arise. You see him out there, the Wall Street type, whose surprising suit-no-socks combo reveals that, yeah, he’s gonna loosen that finance-guy tie and maybe let you make handcuffs with it. Maybe he’s in a button-down, rolled-up khaki pants, and some Sperry boat shoes that say, “I am on a boat, was once on a boat, or aspire to be on a boat, but regardless would do you on that boat.” Or he’s the sleepy, sexy, stonery one at the skatepark in cuffed, vintage 501s and Vans, who just, like, wants to make out and cuddle after a day of shredding. Either way the sex will be great, and nobody is going to leave their socks on because he wasn’t wearing any to begin with.
Men: The time is here. Bare your ankles. Free yourself from the tyranny of sweaty, woolly sock prison. Let your bare feet revel in close contact with the canvas or leather of your shoe, and maybe remember the Dr. Scholl’s powder. Stand on your tippy toes, casually cross your legs, show ‘em off — and ladies, just try to keep your eyes up.