When he was 25, my friend Raja, then known as Alvin, said seemingly brilliant things. For example:
“No one can be beautiful all the time.”
“But almost everyone is pretty much nice-looking.”
These dicta have stood up well over the years.
To them can be added Denis O’Donovan’s insight that no one is sexy all the time.
It should be mentioned that someone must have said, “Being sexy is a matter of thinking you’re sexy.” Whoever said it, that’s held up pretty well too.
Denis the great 70s Gestalt therapist said, I think, there are days when everyone is attracted to you, everyone, even dogs and cats follow you. But there are other days no one can be bothered with you no matter what you do, people turn up their noses, those same dogs and cats find they have better ways to spend their time.
Wow, there are so many stories of people trying to be sexy, to be “hot,” but nothing works. You can’t trick people. It’s like interviewing for a job.
The most powerful thing is being the brother-in-law to whom the job is in fact wired. Second most powerful, you the interviewee feel they’d actually be smart to hire you. You can’t fake this. If you truly believe it, the interviewer picks it up. Barring the brother-in-law set-up, you’re in, you’re hired.
Similarly with the sexiness thing. If you feel it that day, in that place, they want you. Nothing may come of it, they can just keep walking, but the feeling is there. You feel it, they feel it. To be sure, they may have other things to do, a place to go — doesn’t mean they have to drop everything because you’re sexy. Doesn’t mean you’re going to make money off of it. It’s a feeling.
Should Other Parties Drop Everything Because You’re Sexy?
Maybe. That is, from your point of view. From your point of view, remember, these Other Parties don’t even have a life. Much less boyfriends, girlfriends, children, parents, pets, pet rocks, pet sweet potatoes. From your point of view you imagine that their purpose is to respond to you, in your life. They don’t have an actual existence of their own. Except that, on the other hand, they need this existence, this separate existence, in order to affirm you in your point of view’s estimation.
Tricky, huh? Your reasoning: If I’m so sexy, why don’t they just stop, drop all their other activities and be with me, which they realize is their true, their “authentic” activity. Their “calling,” say. This is a fantasy. It works only if the Other Party is not a real person, is themselves a fantasy. Can you dig it? “Do you read me, Sky King? Come in, Sky!”
Out of my charitableness of the moment, I should add that this Other Party’s seeming non-responsiveness to you should not imply your non-sexiness. If this is your day you’re ON. Just remember they the Other Party has a life. I know that’s a hard one. Remember it. Okay?
But shouldn’t they offer at least an acknowledgement? Can’t they at least smile for God’s sake, give a tiny nod, shouldn’t we see a little dance in their eyes as they pass by?
You’re forgetting immediately! You forgot they the Other Party has a life of their own, unrelated to your interests and desires. You don’t even know them and most likely never will. They, like you, have their own interests and desires and preoccupations; get with it Buddy!
On a related note: Is a particular individual either Strong or Weak? Or are they intimidated or encouraged to believe that they fall into one ever-fixed category or the other?
Hard to answer this with any accuracy. Every human being, as far as I in my humble opinion know, has weaknesses. Also strengths. Often the parties are aware of only one or a few of one type, i.e., one or a few strengths or one or a few weaknesses. One believes simply he is “Strong.” He is encouraged to suppress awareness of his various weaknesses, the vulnerabilities he now tries to hide from himself, perhaps believing that in doing so, half-consciously, like a toddler trying to hide himself behind a tree trunk, he is hiding them from others.
Another believes she is “Weak.” While there may be do-gooder talk that seems to encourage her to find her strengths and reject the Weak definition, in fact such talk reinforces her sense of weakness by supporting and endorsing the false perception that there are Strong people you should aspire to emulate and Weak individuals like yourself you should seek to de-identify with! It is the individual who blames herself, but it is the system that is wrong.
There doesn’t need to be precise equality, to be sure, and perhaps Deirdre has 32 things to offer and you have 27 — but you don’t have none. In truth you are not one-dimensional, you are not a stereotype, and neither are they. Those models we’ve been trained on are not real human beings but constructs. To be sure, again, one individual may be good at something, say, communicating clearly; but poor at math. So what?
Under another circus tent, think about, say, the 25th reunion event of Jamaica High School, my alma mater. The “popular” kids, who in high school years appeared to be riding high are now operating on the same level as the rest of us, feeling okay about themselves and their lives if they’re lucky, but without pretension. Turns out, maybe, A. was never really trying to put you down or feel superior to you – now your heart opens for him as he struggles with a small business; maybe B. was just following the path in front of him, the rails that led somewhere. Maybe C. had a difficult home life. D. didn’t even realize there were other choices — just like you yourself didn’t. Hey, you could have picked up at 25 and resettled yourself in Amsterdam…
In high school days the dancing was intimidating. You believed you had to do those “steps” exactly right, and you believed you didn’t have a chance to connect with anyone in the Popular group. That was just the nature of things — which you were trained to accept as true!
But then here was Katie, just a few years ago; once a cheerleader, as my friend Sid kindly reminded me, though also in the Science Core like us, and ultimately partner for a time with Victor, my archrival, his mother an anti-Semite: Katie now is, and perhaps always was, a warm and wonderful person. But also really an intellectual, a thinker, well-read and well-informed. And she seemed truly accessible. Of course this is 50 years later… A person has the chance and the right to think differently.
So there is a belated empowerment. You find that the empowerment of growing up enables you to connect with people and things that you imagined were permanently out of your reach. But, perhaps, anything, just about anything, is possible. At least for some hours, maybe even days, after we drank enough wine in my studio for her to spill a glass and we talked about high school and cheerleading from the standpoint of a half-century later, and about everything important in our adult lives, it looked like — at least I like to think — Katie felt she’d made a mistake, that instead of Victor she should have chosen me…
To be sure, that perception repairs a wound in my side. I could be seen as, after all, more desirable than a pretty face, the soldier from the Popular crowd. That my choices, which would have been laughed out of the room in those days, were not only right for me, but also reverberated with affirmation in the outside world…
© Jerry Kurtz 2015
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