Friday, June 19, 2009


Adonis was one of the Greek fertility gods, associated with the seasons and rebirth, and supposedly so handsome that when he died -- killed by a boar sicced on him by another god he pissed off -- women everywhere lamented loudly and rent their garments in their grief.

Years ago, my collaborator Reaves was hanging out with another writer we know. This fellow, who in his youth was apparently quite the handsome fellow, had blond hair he wore long and was apparently striking, a seventies Greg Allman look. (I didn't meet him until he had, um, aged somewhat, and was less of a traffic-stopper.)

So Reaves tells the story about how he and -- call him Byron -- were somewhere in L.A. and this drop-dead gorgeous young woman crosses the street to accost them. She stands in front of Byron dewy-eyed and drop-jawed and says, "Oh. You are beautiful!"

After she leaves, floating off, one assumes, on a cloud of lust and awe, Reaves turns to Bryon and gives him A Look.

"Happens all the time," Bryon says, shrugging it off.

You can imagine Reaves's reaction to this.

How must it feel to be that physically attractive?

(Uh, for the regular crowd of guys who drop round here, don't bother to start clearing your throats and raising your hands. I've met many of you, seen pictures or vids of others, and while you don't have visages that would necessarily stop clocks or terrify small children, neither do you you have looks that would cause gorgeous women to stop in their tracks to stare in open-eyed wonder, either. Unless you are Fabio, posting under a screen-nom ...)

In some ways, such beauty would be an obvious advantage. Good-looking people tend to get better jobs, invited to social functions, past the rope at exclusive clubs. On the other hand, if you are so handsome that people will have you to their parties just to spruce up the decor, that might stunt your growth, personality-wise. If all you have to do is stand there and be eye-candy, you don't have to bother to be smart, funny, or educated. (This applies to women, too, of course.)

If you are past handsome and ranging into pretty, that might not be something that gains you male camaraderie. (Or, if you are hetero, it might be something that gets you male attention you'd rather not have.)

If, like most of us, you have looks that don't repel, but also don't cause people to cross the road to get a better view, then you have to develop some other resources to get along. I've never been a showstopper, but I always felt that once somebody got to know me, I could charm them or make them laugh, and that goes a long way to add to one's attractiveness.

A lot of women love men who can make them laugh.

Of course, there are always the bad boys, who might not have Greek-god looks, but who have about them that sense of danger that attracts. And different people find other things attractive. See a short, wide, bald guy of fifty with a tall, leggy woman of thirty, and you wonder what it is she sees in him. Could be a lot of things -- wit, compassion, humor, some unseen physical attribute, even something as simple as a lot of money.

Some of these attributes you can keep long after your physical beauty fades. As it happened, Bryon was funny, smart, literate, and a good writer. That's hardly fair.

Women have more of a problem with this than men, at least from what I know of it, but it would make for an interesting character study in a story to have an ordinary-joe be transformed into somebody with movie-star looks in an instant, and see how he deals with the results -- a kind of reverse Black Like Me, or Fat Like Me ...


Dan Moran said...

There's a real world scenario where this happens. I had a buddy who was pretty fat -- around 300 pounds. Had women problems, like, couldn't get any.

He got sick, dropped a bunch of weight; got encouraged by the weight loss and started running 4 miles a day. Slimmed down, got into the gym and muscled up ...

It wasn't the next day, but within about 2 years he went from unable to get a date, to this good looking blonde dude with a rugged air about him, women hanging all over him.

Belle said...

Weirdly, I was just thinking about Byron yesterday and remembering this story (which I heard from Michael.) I haven't seen Byron in a couple of years--my loss--but add to the list that he is very kind and knows more about movie music than anyone. For you hetero guys, more to groan over; for us hetero wimmins, more to sigh about.

This is Belle's mom, not Belle, who is too lazy to sign herself up.

James said...

I had a friend named Lee. A Lt. in another department that I trained with. He was 6'4" tall, 220 lbs, movie star looks, etc... . We entered a restaurant for lunch and watching the women's heads turn was like watching a bunch of radar dishes tracking the same object. After we sat down, being cops, we ragged him about it. I sad "So, Lee, how does it feel to know that all the women and about half the men in here want to (expletive deleted) you?". He said "uhh, yeah, thanks for bringing that up". " No problem, man", I said, "we're friends. It's what friends do". I think that we were all a little envious.

Dojo Rat said...

When women see me walking towards them on the street, they cross to the other side.

I too had a friend like Byron, tall, handsome and talented martial artist. We used to glean the hot tub for the girls he wouldn't have (gotta keep em all happy).
--He's a basket case now with Herpes and a white powder problem. I wouldn't trade my life for his for anything.
Perhaps it is nurture (lifestyle/ethics) after all, not nature (talent/good looks) that guides us through life.

J.D. Ray said...

Uh, for the regular crowd of guys who drop round here, don't bother to start clearing your throats and raising your hands.

I'm reminded of the Monte Python bit from "The Life of Brian" wherein Brian, trying desperately to get rid of all the followers he's picked up, calls out, "You're all individuals!" after which some guy in the back meekly raises his hand and says, "Uh.. Not me."

Funny stuff.