Mike Royko On Leering

(Mike Royko, 1932-1997, was a syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune whose column was reprinted in our local newspaper. I found this yellow clipping saved from many years ago in my attic. Here it is in its entirety, as closely as I can retype it.)

“Leering or staring, it’s all in the eye of the beholder,” by Mike Royko. Date unknown. Reprinted from the Wilmington News-Journal.


Richard Hummel will get no sympathy from me. He has only himself to blame for his troubles. [These are all Mike Royko’s words.]

Hummel is a 60-year-old engineering professor at the University of Toronto who has been barred from the campus swimming pool because he leers at female swimmers.

The females who complained to the university’s sexual harassment board said Hummel’s leering has gone on for years. They say he even took to wearing a snorkel mask so that his leering would not be noticeable.

The board agreed that Hummel’s leering was a clear case of sexual harassment and barred the professor from the pool for 5 years.

The ruling has upset some men, who consider this a clear case of female chauvinism.

They point out that many women at swimming pools make a practice of leering, staring or gawking at muscular young men. Or hunks, as modern females call them.

But has anyone heard of a woman being barred from a pool for this practice?

Its even possible, these males contend, that this also could be a case of age discrimination. They question weather young women would blow the whistle on an attractive young male.

Others wonder how women can really know they are being leered at by someone wearing a snorkel mask, and they have a point. Eyes play a major part of a genuine leer. And if you can’t see a person’s eyes, it would be difficult to say with certainty that he is leering. He might merely be staring.

Of course, females might respond that staring is as serious an offense as leering, although I don’t agree. A leer could indicate that the leerer was having lewd thoughts. But a stare might represent nothing more than admiration for a swimming suit or curiosity about the cause and effect of cellulite in the thighs.

But we are splitting hairs. Or splitting stares. The fact is, whether he was leering or staring, peering or gawking, by the time a man reaches 60, he should have learned to do it subtly enough not to get caught.

If you are going to hang around a swimming pool to do your leering, there are a number of effective maneuvers.

One of them is the old crick in the neck trick. It consists of turning you head to the side, permitting you to peek, while rubbing your neck as if in pain. If the object of your leer makes eye contact, you simply grimace, turn your head the other way, say ouch, and continue rubbing.

Or there is the old drying off the face trick, which is hard to detect. You simply go through the motions of drying your face and scalp, while peering or leering over the top or around the edge of the towel.

There is nothing difficult about the old stretching and yawning trick. You just stretch your arms, yawn, and squint your eyes. That is the way almost everyone stretches and yawns. The secret is the squinting. You just crinkle your eye muscles as if squinting, but you don’t really squint because you want to be able to peer at the object of your lust. It’s difficult for someone to detect the difference between real squinting and fake squinting. You can master this trick after only a few minutes of practice in front of a mirror.

And how does a man get to be 60 without knowing the old big dark glasses trick? With a set of wraparound or aviator-style shades, no one can see your eyes.

This permits you to face north, while your eyes are facing north-west. Or depending on how good your peripheral vision is, even east by northeast.

As a last resort, I would recommend a device used by an old-time private eye known as Smitty.

Smitty specialized in divorce work, which meant he would stake out motels, bars and other places the unfaithful meet.

He was very successful and one of the keys to his success was that he could watch you while facing the opposite direction, so you never got a look at his face.

He could do this because while working he wore glasses that had a tiny rear-view mirror attached to the side of the frame.

I don’t know if anyone sells these frames, but as an engineer, Hummel should have the skills to make a pair for himself. [Bicycle shops sell such mirrors that clip to glasses frames or helmets.  —RW]

Hummel did not want to discuss pool-banning or anything else, so I don’t know if he is married. My guess is that he isn’t.

Any married man would have at least learned the old trick of wearily rubbing your forehead and eyes with your fingers spread.

And this guy is a professor? What a sad state education has come to.


Note the newspaper style: Keep your paragraphs short. Break into a new paragraph for almost any reason. One or two sentences are fine (although, for me, Royko overdoes it). Readers will skim through long paragraphs, or skip them altogether. They love white space. The same with sentences. Break them up, despite what our high school teachers taught us.

(The professor didn’t think he would be noticed in a snorkel mask? Hilarious! Send him off to early retirement.)


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
This entry was posted in History, Writers and Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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