The Tyranny of Beauty
To compare the other one-night stand that month, in terms of sex with Tracy is like deflating a balloon with a pin. Jim invited me to a Halloween party at somebody’s house nearby, someone I didn’t know. It was a nice, large house with a huge crowd, half in costumes, not me, but plenty of booze. I went with Jim, began drinking and wandering the full rooms by myself with loud music playing, people in silly costumes milling about, some dancing. I ended up in a corner of a living room somehow with a plain and short girl, dark hair and glasses, also not in a costume, and was pressed against the wall with her by the crowd. After hardly any conversation she began kissing me. I can’t remember any of it. In my notebook there’s only a cryptic two lines about her. Her name was Linda. I do remember enjoying her kisses and leading her by the hand back to my place around two in the morning. The lights were on in Ed and Brigitte’s place. They’d been to another party, had just gotten home and invited us in for drinks. We sat with them for another hour, but mostly necking. She seemed infatuated with this. So Ed and Brigitte left us alone, dimmed the lights and went to bed. Then to my bed for drunken, forgotten sex. Here’s my entry:
“Nov. 1st, Another weekend of drugs and debauchery. Friday night was not so bad as the Saturday before. There was music till 4 a.m., then dull talk and stupefaction till about noon. No morning exodus to the cafe Med. Saturday afternoon getting high again, this time more lively, talking enthusiastically with Chuck, then to open house party then to Halloween party, thinking the car totally broken, but high and happy, picking up Linda, and another kind of high”.
That’s all the mention she gets. The next sentence is about work, and how it helps us recover from binging. But because I did have sex with her I tried to start a relationship. The next morning we talked with open eyes and I began to realize we had little in common. But I promised to visit her the next day. She lived nearby and I visited her Monday evening. I think we had dinner in her modest apartment, but the conversation was lacklustre. Tuesday night I took her to a movie, trying to talk with her on any subject that might provoke a spark in her brain, and realized, walking her home, that she was totally dull, in mind and looks and personality, a consistent, perfect blank, a cipher. I called her the next day and told her we weren’t meant for each other, that I wanted to break it off, permanently. Even in this declaration she had no reaction, just saying ‘o.k.’. I wonder what happens to such dull, speechless people in life? Do they meet a speechless mate and just watch T.V. together each evening, munching popcorn from the same bag, side by side? Or do they become spinsters in lonely apartments? Probably both.
How is it there can be such a huge disparity in sexual magnetism and talent in women? You meet some (and this is the only way I can sum it up accurately), and you find they have one dollar in their bank account. Then you meet another and discover she has a million dollars in hers. It’s hard to fathom this degree of difference. It’s too wide. It defies the narrow limits of all our other human disparities in any art or skill.
Some people are obviously gifted in certain skills. In some it might be in hand-eye coordination in tennis or baseball, quick reflexes, aim and accuracy or speed or just bulk strength in other sports. In the mental departments some have musical or artistic gifts, or creative imaginations and a rare fluency with words in writing. They become our idols and we enjoy their short spans of fame. But on close examination, the difference between the average man or woman and these stars is not that great, perhaps twenty I.Q. points and a better physique and all the effort and concentration they put into perfecting their talent. But we’re still in the same league, the same ballpark. That’s why we watch and admire them in sports, read about them or view their works in galleries. We can’t match their performances. But we admire them all the more as our kin and our betters, the success stories we might have been.
But in matters of sexuality, magnetism and beauty women vary to a huge degree. A rare few blossom into an Aspasia, guiding Pericles as he ruled Athens, Socrates calling her his greatest teacher, or a Lucretia Borgia or Marguerite de Navarre, two bright lights of the renaissance, or a Cleopatra or Zenobia, ruling the world of men effortlessly. They were all resplendently beautiful in mind and face.
I’ll limit my present speculations to physical beauty and personal charm, women living today, a few of whom I’ve met. Some become supermodels at seventeen, and with the slightest smile conquer almost anyone they choose. Others, a few steps below in charms and beauty, with a little intellect and practice, perfume and attire, can easily captivate a host of desirable men, social belles.
Those dealt a mediocre hand in this game of charms give up the game altogether. Many of these women whom I met or watched, especially in Berkeley, had little or no desire to please, (though they all had female magnetism), empowered, I suppose, in this era of gender equality to think they had no need to try, as if that were demeaning. And those who didn’t try, in bed or out, got the same as they gave and wondered at their neglect by men. In this electronic age, femininity, just like gallantry, (just like society) is pretty much dissolving.
Linda was like that, ditched within a week. Diane, (whom I dated a year later) was great on the first two trysts (drug enhanced), then a nightmare on the third completely sober one (on her insistence) and rudely dumped, for the same rudeness shown me. Lindy was hardly better, lasting until I saw myself as her sidekick in her drunken flings and nothing more. Lindsey, (my girlfriend to follow for almost a year) was sexy (or rather ‘horny’) in bed, but with the fault that she enjoyed everyone’s bed, including most of my friends, at any time. All of them failed in any reciprocity to the plain, honest love I tendered, either not able to see it or blatantly using it for their own unshared, petty plans. In every case all dialogue broke down. In each case any charm they first had over me soon turned to disgust in my eyes, monsters, not women.