March 29, 2005
Danger stalks us every spring. It follows us through crowds. It often travels in pairs. You’re out enjoying the cool weather. You pause at a street corner or a hiking trail.
You feel a strange energy and hear a soft hum. You don’t want to turn, but you do. Then it’s got you. You’re blinded, incapacitated and incapable of lunch.
Many hazards threaten us in the desert. But few are more pervasive than the scary white legs of Caucasian males. As the weather warms, women of Anglo-Saxon descent have the sense and clothing to modulate their paleness. But the East Valley’s sidewalks, crosswalks and byways are filled with guys who just pull a pair of shorts atop those hairy fluorescent bulbs of theirs and "get busy."
The hazards are real. Chalky white man legs (CWML) pose a constant danger to our roadways, sending drivers onto curbs ("I couldn’t look away," they always say) or frightened pedestrians into traffic. Those flashes you see at East Valley intersections aren’t always photo radar. Often they are the uncovered legs of a Nordic male who saw a pair of cargo shorts at the Gap and decided to be adventurous.
A few tips to keep you safe:
Don’t look directly at the legs!
Some say looking directly into the legs of a pasty man will make you blind. This is an exaggeration. Science has proved that only man legs from Michigan or Wisconsin can permanently blind you. Still, it’s best to look away. It’s like an eclipse. In fact, really white legs can be safely observed through a cardboard "eclipse box." But if you’re that eager to see them, your problems go way beyond vision.
Never call attention to chalky white man legs: Most cases of leg blindness occur not from direct contact but from "secondhand sightings," where someone sees a pair of bleached gams and says to a friend, "Get a load of that." The friend turns and looks, and tragedy follows. Kids, a friend who asks you to look at chalky white man legs is no friend! Shade your eyes and leave the area as soon as safety allows.
Try not to judge: Remember, this is not the leg owner’s fault. I know this, because . . . these are my people. We are victims of genetics — descendants of the early, pale hominids who used their bright thighs to frighten predators off the savannah.
White legs are still useful in the Midwest, where, on humid summer evenings, a pale pair of legs can still serve as a bug zapper. But here, they’re a curse: Everybody squints, ushers ask you to leave movie theaters. Nordic males must wear jeans near airports because leg glare has been known to draw planes away from landing lights. Extended sun will soon make us safe again. Until then, if you see a man in Bermuda shorts with shin bones bright enough to read by, look away, and remember: He ain’t pasty. He’s my brother.