My co-worker Mark is a Tinderella constantly on a mission to crush butt. He will flip through picture after picture of girls, assessing and rating them all. I will watch him, bursting, full of questions. “How can you tell if someone is prettier than someone else?” “You just can,” he said. “I don’t know, can’t you tell if a guy is better looking than another guy?” I thought about all the men in the world. How does one compare Ryan Gosling to David Beckham? It’s like comparing a sunflower to a rose. They both are so beautiful. But then I have always been strangely attracted to Adrian Brody, he would be like a cactus, which is also beautiful in a unique and mystical way. “Yeah ok, but who has the better butt?” Mark said, in all seriousness. “I mean David Beckham is a pro athlete…can you google Ryan Gosling’s butt? I’m having a hard time picturing it.” After I said it, silence settled all around Mark and I, the kind of eerie, calm silence that happens in movies right before natural disasters are about to strike. “No, just forget about i-” Mark tried to stop me but it was too late. The truth was rising up inside of me and I had to lay it down.
I had stood up and begun to pace back and forth in front of him..yammering away. “You know, if you exclude the fact that attraction is an important factor in mating-” “Jenn, please no…” Mark looked pained as I carried on, “And you just think about the concept of beauty in general, I mean in such an image obsessed world, being beautiful seems to carry a lot of clout. But why? And women just seem so much more forgiving. A woman will look past a lumpy gut, or crooked tooth or wonky eye and go on and on about a man’s character, or how he bought her flowers, or their sense of humor. But men are so visual and so critical.” “I do have eyes,” Mark said matter of factly and after he said it, it seemed like he himself had aged forty years, agitated and crotchety and set in his old man ways. “Just get over it,” he said happily like he was adding gasoline to a fire, waiting for the thrill of watching it rage out of control. I was about to go femme fatal on him. Shut up neanderthal MAN, listen to me, to prohibition sally-girl-boss-Hilary-Clinton-and-all-other-things-that-men-wince-at-girl-power-things. My face had turned serious and thoughtful and the glee vanished from Mark’s face, just like all pyromaniacs, the fire’s cool to watch burn until it blazes out of control and becomes dangerous or threatening to you. He began looking for exit routes, his eyes scanning all around before focusing on the horizon.
“Everyone wants to be beautiful, but in a strange obsessive way, a way that suggests we all suddenly drop dead at the age of 40, at the first sign of a forehead wrinkle or pound of weight gained, leaving behind nothing but an Instagram full of beautiful filtered selfies of us at our best angles and in our prime. But hey hi hello, life isn’t over, your twenties are ten years, that’s it! One day we will be sixty and our twenties will be a distant memory.” Mark groaned, but his eyes looked interested, like I had said something that made him pause and he was now staring at me, listening. “If we spend all our time trying to be beautiful on the outside, or being dazzled by physical beauty, what are we going to do when we all get saggy and old?” If I had baited him, I immediately lost him once I uttered the word ‘saggy.’ “I don’t like old people..or babies,” he said cringing at the thought of birth and death. I narrowed my eyes at him and he shrugged. “It’s a biological fact that our bodies break down on us. But your soul never grows old and saggy, we should all be spending time developing that so we can emulate beauty through every stage of our lives.” Mark rolled his eyes, “Ok Thoreau. And how should we develop our souls?” After he asked it, he closed his eyes in immediate regret, similar to how people look after they take that final last shot of whiskey at a bar- the shot the takes you down.
In no particular order:
Sense of humor (especially regarding yourself). Nothing is more beautiful than a man or woman who can laugh at themselves. It’s a sign of confidence. Life is fragile yes, but it should be enjoyed, and that means you can’t spend it taking yourself so seriously that you never have a good laugh at yourself. Humor can save you, if you can laugh or see the humor in any situation, you can survive anything. Humor also attracts people to you, everyone wants to be around someone who can make a seemingly dull or challenging or even stimulating situation fun and interesting.
Sense of adventure. You want to be a person who can’t wait to trek up a mountain in Nepal to visit ancient temples and monkeys, or sail around the world, but you also want to be the person who can see the adventure in the everyday boring things, like going to the grocery store, or making a trip to the DMV. You wouldn’t think this is possible but I have had some wild times at the department of motor vehicles- you just need to be observant and have a wicked imagination.
Dope Style. This does not mean you are decked out in designer everything. This means you have developed your own sense of style and you rock it, with confidence, no matter what it is. Fashion and trends are bullshit, wear what you like, mix and match things, feel comfortable in developing your own personal style. Once I saw a Grammie having brunch in Malibu wearing a neon red sweatsuit, flip flops, black rimmed glasses and drinking a mimosa on a Wednesday at eleven in the morning. And Grammie looked doooooope. She outshone all the young giltteraties who were all wearing different versions of big rimmed hats, drinking green juice and picking at egg whites.
Compassion. When you get old, shit hits the fan and compassion becomes a big asset. You will see this in hospitals when a spouse remains by the side of their partner, holding their hand. But compassion is a learned skill, it requires empathy and experience, it’s a higher level of thinking that most people sadly never really develop or reach. It’s a skill we all should be working on perfecting- constantly. Nothing is more beautiful or strong than someone who can extend kindness to everyone they encounter. Or someone who can see all sides to a story, or someone who is tolerant and open minded.
Sense of Wonder. I’m sure we have all been on a date where we sat in silence and listened to someone talk. These blabber-ers are not beautiful, they are annoying, selfish and insecure. Beautiful people do not think the world revolves around their own beautiful face, they are curious about others, about life, about everything they encounter on a daily basis. They wonder. The sense of wonder will keep you young forever.
Independence. We are all different. The ability to come to terms with yourself, to be self aware and embrace your own being allows other people to embrace who they are. An independent person is someone who has blossomed, and therefore makes it easy for others to blossom around them as well. Independent people can celebrate others because they do not fear what is different than them. They can stand outside of a group as themselves happily.
Intelligence. To me, this means having the ability to thoughtfully question, challenge and continuously learn and re-learn throughout your life. You want to be interesting to talk to, someone inspiring and engaging. To think and then speak, to give voice to an opinion shows guts, and to be able to do it with grace shows incredible power.
I mean, a nice ass will never be able to do those things. Ever.