Grin and bare it

Stop any man driving on Beaverdam Road opposite the entrance to the Beaverdam Run condos and ask him if he misses the "snow lady." Then watch his face carefully as he responds. Watch his eyes well up with tears; listen for the quiver creeping into his voice. These are giveaways that his casual "What snow lady?" is only a coverup. Choking back his emotions, he'll doubtless speed away, calling back that it's his Toyota's fault he can't stay and chat.

In fact, though, he knows exactly who you're talking about. And he knows full well the snow lady is history.

Just about every manly man residing in this part of Asheville has been saddened by the onslaught of springtime, in more ways than one. And if you wonder why this flirtatious female triggered so many near-miss accidents, it's because drivers were too engaged in gaping at her generous endowment: She was flaunting hooters that would make any grown man whimper and the younger ones drool.

I can't speak for any women who might have been passengers in those vehicles, but I can assure you that if their reactions were negative they had to have been tinged with at least a hint of jealousy — especially among the more elderly, whose anatomical endowments tend to succumb to the pull of gravity over time. On the other hand, it's not easy for an ordinary hetero man of whatever vintage to ignore such a public display of full-blown bosoms, especially when they adorn a not-too-full-blown body.

But I digress.

Let me explain why I'm writing this obituary for someone whose name I don't know and now never will. I am not a fantasizing youth struggling with the roaring onslaught of raging hormones. I was 4 years old when my parents took me to an airstrip on Long Island to see where the Paris-bound "Lucky Lindy" had just taken off. So I've had a lot of time to discover and explore the intriguing anatomical differences between men and women, particularly in their upper extremities. What follows are legally acceptable, unrestricted, cold, hard facts of life that know no limits, age-related or otherwise.

It was in Paris many decades ago that I was first made aware of a startling variation in ladies of different nationalities. I was feasting on the terpsichorean talents of the Moulin Rouge dancers when my hosts — a saddened Frenchman and a delighted Englishman — finally agreed to reveal a closely guarded secret: The dancing girls were English, not French. And the reason for this became quite clear when one compared the restrained décolletages of the French ladies in the audience with the exuberant charms of the imported dancers onstage. Another notable revelation came in New Orleans in the 1950s while watching a remarkably gifted lady, Tessie the Tassel Twister, put both Gypsy Rose Lee and Sally Rand to shame with an unforgettable muscular performance that fascinated onlookers of both genders. My innate sense of discretion prevents me from elaborating further: You had to see it to believe it.

But all this pales into insignificance before the spectacle so prominently displayed on the snow-covered lawn of a Beaverdam Road residence some weeks back.

Given the right conditions, every human being — young or old, male or female — has doubtless tried to fashion a snowman at some point. I attended Carnegie Tech during World War II, when Pittsburgh's steel mills were belching out black smoke around the clock, turning my pristine white creations into handsome (if somewhat incongruous) African-American figures overnight, with blackened carrot noses and white eyes. But they were always robust snowmen — never, ever, the kind of voluptuous creature we're talking here.

So imagine my shock when I spotted, on this humble front lawn in my neighborhood, such an impressively endowed snow lady. The artisan who'd crafted this eye-catching vision had made no attempt to shroud it in the cloak of modesty women have traditionally used to camouflage their charms. Neither did he (or she?) insert the customary carrot nose and coal eyes, much less twig arms.

No, the accompanying photo should make it clear to even the most casual observer that the sculptor's full attention was focused on the "lady's" outstanding upper torso. And perhaps Mother Nature was directing her own warming influence toward the frigid figure's facial characteristics while mustering the courage to tackle the more challenging topography below.

The photo illustrates far better than my words can what so many Beaverdam Valley residents were queuing up to view during the last days of our now-departed winter. But this striking phenomenon did raise some key questions. Would it bring down the wrath of puritanical Western North Carolinians on its creator? How would local artists — schooled in the facts of life yet often frustrated in their efforts to express them freely — react? And what about those ladies' fashion experts who simultaneously strive to disguise and flaunt such treasures, the better to tantalize the salivating male population?

I, for one, was not dismayed, however. In fact, I was delighted to see a local resident (perhaps a homesick Englishman or frustrated Frenchman?) so explicitly convey this artistic vision — a sure sign that Asheville continues to blaze new trails on the leading edge of sculptural daring.

The snow lady of Beaverdam is dead and gone. Spring grass now sprouts where her snow-white feet trod of late. But long may her sterling image linger in the hearts and minds of all mankind — and long may her anonymous, albeit heavy-handed, creator savor the joy his (surely not her?) dedication to the arts bequeathed to this community, if only for a few fleeting-yet-unforgettable days…

[Kempton Roll lives in Beaverdam.]

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