Writing Characters as Sensual or Undesirable

A couple of weeks ago, I sat in one my neighborhood’s newest and most welcomed eating establishments called Sotelo’s CafÃ?©. Sotelo’s has been in my neighborhood for over a year now and is supported by all the local residents. One late morning I went to Sotelo’s and ordered my usual breakfast: one cinnamon pancake, scrambled egg whites, and sliced tomatoes. A couple of the regulars were present when I arrived. I grabbed a section of that day’s newspaper and sat at the table with the two. I tried not to be disruptive because the regulars, (a hairstylist named Jim and an entrepreneur named Kenny) were engaged in a serious conversation. So in the meantime. I just browsed through the newspaper minding my own business.

Soon my order was ready. The chef, named Alejandro, brought my order to me within minutes. The pancake was a dark golden brown (from the cinnamon), the egg whites were soft and fluffy, and the tomatoes were bright red, neatly sliced, and crisp with freshness. After Alejandro placed the porcelain plate in front of me, I proceeded to eat my breakfast. I picked up a glass container of maple syrup and slowly poured the thick sticky syrup onto my pancake. I used the butter knife to spread the whipped butter in a circular motion blending it with the syrup on the pancake. As I ate, I noticed peripherally that Kenny was observing my every movement. I figured that maybe I was smacking or performing some other unpleasant eating etiquette. Nevertheless, I continued to place each intricately cut portion of the pancake into my mouth. I sprinkled salt and pepper on each of my tomatoes and then sliced them into quarters with my knife and fork. I savored each bite of food that I placed into my mouth. I allowed the portions of pancake to practically dissolve in my mouth and slide down my throat. I took intermittent sips of ice cold water. Jim and Kenny’s conversation continued but Kenny, Kenny kept looking at me with his piercing blue eyes as I consumed my breakfast. I asked myself, was I eating too fast ? Too noisy ? Too slowly ? Finally, Kenny blurted to Jim and I, ” I have never seen anybody eat a pancake and tomato so sensually before in my life” Kenny pointed at me while talking to Jim, “Have you seen her ? Watch her eat.” he said with enthusiasm. Well, I guess one can say I blushed. But I wasn’t trying to eat my syrup saturated pancake sensually. I wasn’t trying to impress anybody, let alone two men that have no interest in women whatsoever. “You make me wanna rub that pancake all over by body” said Kenny with excitement. Jim and Kenny held their heads back and released roaring chuckles like characters from a George Romero horror flick. But Kenny meant it.

So Kenny’s observation made me think. When I’m writing a story or poem and I have a female character who’s a seductress. I confess, the character eats sensually, seductively, erotically, and every other adjective that means “sensual.” In contrast, when I’m a writing a scene or a poem involving two characters and I want one of the character’s to be viewed as undesirable, disgusting, or unappealing you best believe it’s done through his/her’s eating habits. Perhaps, that special moment with my cinnamon pancake, scrambled egg whites, and sliced tomatoes was art imitating life but subconsciously ? I mean, now I feel compelled to give tips to men and women on how to eat one cinnamon pancake, scrambled egg whites, and sliced tomatoes sensually or did I do that already ?

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