Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Excuse Me, But You Are So...

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. ~Roald Dahl

It was the mid-1980’s. A young woman—no Marilyn Monroe, by any stretch of the imagination, but reasonably attractive—sat with her date in a club. Dressed in a pretty pink blouse and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans (I DID say this was the 80’s!), she looked and felt pretty sexy.

But her companion was a bit inattentive, his Rico Suave gaze roaming the place. His attitude shouted loud and clear that he was sure he could do much better than the pretty-ish woman beside him. And he probably could have.

Then something happened. Something so unexpected, so odd, so startling, it changed the woman’s life.

A stranger, a very good-looking man, stood at his table and said goodnight to the waitress as he laid his money on her tray.

Then he walked straight to the lady in the pink blouse and stopped at her table. He addressed the woman’s date first, Excuse me, he said. I’m sorry, man, if I’m out of line, but I’ve just got to say this. Then the handsome stranger turned to the woman and murmured, You are so goddamn beautiful. Before the lady could react, the man smiled at her date, saying, You’re a lucky man.

And, just like that, the mysterious man was gone.

One flash in time, a little basketful of verbal flowers, and the lady in the pink blouse’s inner beauty—which had surely been dormant, as she never knew she even HAD inner beauty—lit up inside her. She glowed that night, smiled, flirted, felt—beautiful.

Her date suddenly saw her through this total stranger’s eyes and, from that point on, became quite the attentive escort.

The lady in the pink blouse? That was me. And the odd thing? I was not, still am not, outstanding in the looks department. Who knows what that stranger saw? Who knows exactly what attracts one person to another? Chemistry? A soul connection? Maybe he just liked pink blouses on brunettes? I’ll never know.

But since that night, and through the years, I’ve been fascinated by human attraction and its uncanny mystery.

For myself, sure, there are the obvious draws that I find attractive in men. It’s no secret I love my dark-haired men. I have exquisite, exotic fantasies of my Italian lovers with their black eyes and full lips, their perfect bodies. Gods in men’s physiques. A charming accent is, without a doubt, irresistible.

But that’s just my fantasy. That is what I like to look at in pictures, to admire in public, to drool over. But it’s not real to me, it doesn’t appeal to me beyond the external, the obvious allure.

There’s a reason this has all hit me today. Earlier this week, I blogged my thoughts about finding soul mates. The thought had been so strong in my mind.

Then, this morning, I accidentally stumbled on a picture of someone who I found, much to my surprise, to be incredibly sexy. So sexy I couldn’t take my eyes from him. And, in truth, he’s sort of lingered in my mind all day.

He was a very young man—what?—no older than his twenties, probably. Skinny as a beanpole, he wore glasses and had bleached blond hair, wild and curly. Not ripped with six pack abs—actually, he didn’t even have a three-pack set of abs. At first glance, very ordinary.

In fact, he would fit perfectly in one of those vintage ads for body building. You know the ones. The buff guy mocking the 98-pound weakling, taunting, Hey, Skinny! Kicking sand in his face. He could be the poster boy for the old Charles Atlas ads…Do you want to look like THIS? He’d BE the 98-pound weakling.

Then his most outstanding feature—his smile—caught my attention. A huge, brilliant, need-sunglasses-to-look-at-it blinding smile. Very toothy. A skinny little scarecrow with huge teeth and glasses.

Somehow, inexplicably, I found myself so attracted to this young man, actually finding him incredibly sexy. No, not lothario sexy—let me bed you, my darling, and wrap you in roses and kisses sexy—just…sexy.

The beauty, the intense beauty, that radiated from this man drew me to him, then caused me to stop, to tarry. From the brilliant, effervescent smile, my gaze moved to see that he had very nice hands…expressive hands. Nice, strong, handsome feet. Light, smooth skin. Details which, when observed as a whole picture, blended to make a very handsome person.

But the personality. This shit-eating, lively, I-love-me-I-love-you-I love-life burst of sunshine from this skinny little person. Made him ten feet tall, transformed him into an Adonis, made him bright as the sun, made him so damn sexy and irresistible this girl can't stop thinking about him.

I knew, deep down, if that smile—that glorious, infectious smile—walked into my life, no matter how skinny, how heavy, how tall, how short, how much hair, how rich, how poor…I’d beg to dance in the light of him.

I noticed that my young, broad-smiled, bespectacled dream man is married, and I—like my own stranger/admirer long ago—thought of his wife, You’re a lucky lady.

To be lucky enough to bask in a smile I loved, to see that sunshine everyday, to be the one to cheer him up when his sun wasn’t shining, to be the one that exceptional smile shined on—what a romantic idea. What a sexy idea. Not the stuff romance novels are made of, but real-life, you-are-my-sunshine, you-are-so-goddamn-beautiful-inside-I-can-hardly-stand-it reality.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said, People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.

And I’m pretty sure this was the caliber of beauty I saw this morning in my skinny little dream man. Something so bright, so full of life, so obviously dredged in sweet love—not only surely for his wife but for the world around him—exudes when one has this kind of inner light.

I hope, hope, hope that while being surrounded in the romantic world of fiction by streams of well-built gods in Speedos with their tight abs and powerful chests, I keep my mind open to his alter ego—the man who might not hit the mark of movie-star looks and body-builder physique but who has THE SMILE.

And hold me back. Because, if I do see such blinding sun in person, I’m going to march right up to him and say, Excuse me. But you are so goddamn beautiful.

Monday, 11 July 2011

You Are My Sunshine...

'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark our coming, and look brighter when we come. ~Lord Byron

It started with Ed. My quest to listen, to watch for signs, to find…my soul mate.

I stood at the coffee counter in the customer service area of my office. I heard a voice behind me. The beautiful husky tone, the charming Latino accent. I knew that voice intimately. And why not? I invented it. It was the voice I’d imagined my fictional Italian hero, Salvatore, to have.

Slowly I turned toward the voice and there he stood. Salvatore, in the flesh. Gorgeous. Well over six feet, dark-skinned, dark-haired, well built. He wore glasses, which shot my libido into orbit.

In a move completely out of nature for me, I forced myself to speak to…Salvatore, whose name turned out to be Ed. Not much. Just a casual how are you doing? Fine, thanks.

I was in love.

It was a sign. I mean, after all, Salvatore is my quintessential Latino man—not particularly handsome as handsome goes, but gorgeous in his virility. One hundred percent M.A.N. Glasses, accent, coloring, voice, build. Made to order. The man of my dreams. Ed was my soul mate, I was sure.

Ed and I, over the course of time, began to talk on the phone. Long, wonderful, sensual, conversations. Seems he was Puerto Rican, a perfect romantic, every woman’s dream of spicy teasing, the promise of tender lovemaking, the anticipation of being adored in those deep brown eyes. It had all been so magical, I was sure it was meant to be. I was madly in love.

Just like Mrs. Ed. Yes, alas, there was a wife Ed neglected to mention.

To hell with soul mates, then. What a bunch of crock.

No more listening to my inner self, no more tuning my senses, no more opening myself up to finding my ‘mate’—as they do in the shape shifter books.

If only it could BE so convenient. Why, hell, if I’d only been a shape shifter, I would have immediately known Ed was not my soul mate. I’d have realized, by his scent if nothing else, that he was indeed not my destined partner for life.

I’ve encountered a few more soul mates since Ed. And with every case of ‘mistaken soul mate identity’, I find myself less and less hopeful of finding ‘him’.

With every wrong choice—which always began as the perfect choice—I felt more convinced such a thing did not exist. Such perfect mating, perfect love was just fiction. Only happens in the romances. Those damn shape shifter, vampire folks who smell chocolate chip cookies in the air and home in on their life mates. Give me a break. As if.

You want to know something? It sort of hurts. It’s an ache. This unfulfilled quest. This curse of writing romance but not being able to live it.


Yes, there’s a but. And it’s a beautiful pause in my reign as the self-proclaimed Queen of Pity.

The other day, I browsed Facebook and stumbled on the page of a fellow author, Rick Reed. It was Rick’s birthday. One post on his wall jumped out at me.

It was a birthday post from Rick’s partner, Bruce. It was so simple, so sweet—a photo of Rick and their dog, Lily. I don’t remember the exact wordage of the little birthday wish, but I DO remember, with sunshine bright clarity, that, along with the wish, it said, ‘To Rick and Lily. They are my sunshine.’

That little bitty sentiment made me cry when I saw it. For one thing, because I could very well see how Rick—who seems to be a genuinely sweet man—could be the sunshine of someone’s life.

But the main reason it touched me? Because, all the sudden, from that simple but hugely eloquent little statement, came the realization to me that maybe it’s not all about mating, of throwing out your vibes into the unknown of the Universe in hopes of crossing paths with a mate of my soul.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s about just plain ol’ walking right into the sunshine of another person, of being their sunshine, of making them smile, making their life a beautiful place in the sun—just by being there.

I knew, then, that my longing is not so much about marriage, the perfect man, me being the perfect woman for that perfect man. Not about romantic Latino men, gorgeous Italians, perfect bodies. Not even about soul mates.

But it’s about being the smile in another person’s life, whether it’s your spouse, your lover, whether it’s opposite sex or same sex. Being a warm, comfortable body to melt into when you wake from a bad dream. To hold you tight when thunder and lightning scare you. Having that hot cup of coffee ready when you come home from a long day at work. That person who will sit beside you while you take a bath and let you gripe about your day. The person who shares the remote. The man or woman who lets you have time to yourself to write, who tolerates your cat, who will vacuum the floor or fill the dishwasher. The person who is allowed to see you without your makeup. Who you’re not embarrassed to brush your teeth in front of.

Maybe I’ve overcomplicated this process of finding the love of my life.

Robert Frost said, Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.

That is very simple. No body scents to have to recognize, nothing fancy.

Tim Robbins said, We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.

And he’s right, I guess. If love is truly like Rick and Bruce and Lily, then all one has to do is be their own sunshine, make their own sun. Fresh-squeezed, beautiful, yellow and bright sunshine.

If it’s meant to be, the love of our lives will walk into that sun, and we will become each other’s sunshine. If it’s not meant to be? Shine on anyway. Sun is good.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’ take my sunshine away.