The Wandering Eye

Why do men look at other women

I was sitting at the outside bar at Farmstead in St. Helena on a gorgeous summer afternoon, when my lunch date caught my wandering eye watching a woman pass by. “You are a flitterer,” she accused me. “You have a flittering eye.” I tried to pivot from this potentially volatile conversation faster than Sarah Huckabee Sanders at a press briefing. I told  her there was no such word as “flitterer,” but it was no use. I had glanced over at a woman walking across the patio, she saw me do it, and I was busted.

Now, this wasn’t a full-fledged, head-arching, CIA-caliber investigative check-out. I’m talking about the Wandering Eye, the quick shift, the distraction. Regardless, I can see how this behavior comes across as tacky and disrespectful at best, and intimidating and demeaning at worst. As such, it is completely deserving of recrimination. But why is it so difficult not to do? As ball-scratching, proto-apes go, I consider myself to be adequately evolved. But I still only have about an 83% success rate at not watching that azz go by.

The Wandering Eye Has No Gender Bias

This is not to say that the Wandering Eye is a Date Crime reserved solely for men. I’ve been with plenty of women who’ve checked out other guys. However, their variation of the Wandering Eye seems to be a Super Power exclusive to the female gender: The Checkout Radar. And unlike men, who at least try to be subtle with their glaring, most women have no problem reporting in real time what is coming across their radar scope. “That guy at the table over there totally checked me out. So did the manager when we walked in. And that woman over there drinking the Lucia Pinot Noir thinks I’m a slut for wearing this dress.”

Winemaker Gary Pisoni in his jeep, his wandering eye checking out pinot noir grapes

Gary Pisoni, rock star winemaker for Lucia, lasciviously checking out Pinot Noir grapes.

Interestingly, science provides us with Three Reasons Why Men Have A Wandering Eye. This may seem like an excuse. Like a fait accompli that we are simply victims of our own bioengineering. But hey, give it a try next time you’re caught and see what happens:

#1: Studies Indicate That The Human Eye Is Involuntarily Distracted By Peripheral Motion And Irrelevant Objects.

This conclusion is backed up by several peer-reviewed papers. Two worthy of note are a 1998 study by scientists at The University of Illinois, and experiments reported in Remington, Johnson, Yantis (1992), “Involuntary attentional capture by abrupt onsets.” Perception & Psychophysics, 51(3):279-290.

In other words, there’s actually scientific evidence to back up your wandering eye when you say, “I can’t help it!” Apparently, you can’t. We were born this way, because if our Neanderthal ancestors who were dining with their dates didn’t notice the saber-tooth tiger jumping out of the trees, they became the featured entree.

Reason Number Two has no science behind it at all. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more subjective. But I think it’s insightful in it’s own weird way, so here you go:

#2: Any Thoughts I Have About A Woman That Wanders By Are Irrelevant, As They Have No Basis In Reality.

No, I don’t want to have sex with that woman I just glanced at…though maybe I’d consider sex with the complete fantasy version of her I just concocted in my mind: one where she’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Master Somm with a 2,000-bottle wine collection who’d pay my utility bill the morning after.

A cover of STAR magazine with Kim K's endowed butt will also catch your wandering eye

Oh my GAWD! Check out those sunglasses!!

Reason Number Three stems from why I only have that aforementioned 83% success rate. One evening, while I was having drinks with Ex #2, I was droning on about something when I noticed her eyes light up like sparklers on the 4th of July. Assuming this wasn’t a reaction to whatever fascinating story I was telling, I asked her what was going on.

“Oh my GOD,” she whispered. “Did you see that girl’s butt?”

No, I didn’t, I thought to myself. But more importantly, how come I didn’t and you did?

So we struck a deal: We could check out anyone we wanted, but we had to acknowledge it to the other person. This may sound a wee bit dysfunctional on a certain level because it is. However, it had a logic behind it that removed all feelings of jealousy or disinterest. Or at least, that’s what we pretended.

#3: Because It’s OK To Acknowledge When Something Beautiful Or Wanders By

If a strikingly beautiful woman walks by me, I’m probably going to notice, in the exact same way I’d notice if Jason Mamoa passed by. Or some dude carrying a Picasso walked by. Or if a UFO lands across the street. Perhaps if a Centaur starts walking through the restaurant handing out winning lottery tickets. I’m just going to notice. It’s just going to happen.

And that’s ok. In some respects, this behavior is ironically at the root of everything we consider right and good and deserving of our priorities. Stop and smell the roses; the philosophy of namaste. I’m writing this entry on the balcony of my apartment, and I can’t count how many times I’ve been distracted by the changing colors of the sunset. Perhaps one can argue that’s not the same as being distracted by another person when your attention should be on someone else, but maybe that’s more an issue of the prejudices of our own insecurities.

The Wandering Eye Pairs With: The 2017 Fogelson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville, Napa Valley. 

When you pay $100+ for a sub-appellated Napa Valley Cabernet, and suddenly the same bottle wanders by $29, you take notice. That’s what the good folks at Fogelson Vineyard are aiming for. They want your attention, and this get it with this exquisitely-crafted and amazingly-priced Cabernet Sauvignon.

Exhibiting all the delicious minerality and explosive fruit that Coombsville is known for, this Cabernet was created by one of the area’s foremost winemakers, who’s more famously known for his Pinot Noirs. He uses the same light touch on this wine, so it’s not overblown, and will even age beautifully for another ten years.

Fogelson Vineyard has a unique Napa Valley release each month, so quantities are limited. Get yours now, before these bottles wander off…

7 thoughts on “The Wandering Eye”

  1. Well said, John. I am tired of apologizing for my genetic imperatives. Three elements at work here: women dress nicely to look good or, in the best of circumstacnes, beautiful; secondly, as a friend of mine used to say “the cookies are in the window,” meaning that if a woman wears a low cut blouse and a push-’em-up bra or ass-hugging leggings or skirt, I will notice (preferably with a polite and appreciative glance as opposed to an offensive ogle); and thirdly, I’m a guy and guys are hard wired with genetic imperatives that draw the eye to the female form (unless you’re gay, and even then there’s appreciation/criticism). So no apologies.

  2. Oh, lordy. I am so tired of women who bitch and moan about their men looking at other women — it’s very whiny and petty. If my husband didn’t notice other attractive women I’d worry that he was depressed or dead.

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