“Words began to appear in English and to make some kind of equivalent. For what satisfaction it is hard to say, except that something seems unusually piercing, living, handsome, in another language, and since English is yours, you wish it to be there too.” Robert Fitzgerald
When Sandy asked me to write the introduction to the “special project” I thought it would be easy; I mean, what woman has a hard time expressing why she is attracted to certain men? I guess this woman does because I’m finding it difficult to define much less explain and put into words. It is something of a mystery isn’t it? That attraction thing.
To understand it – or I guess I should say, attempt to understand it – I had to go way, way back. I do remember, very clearly, my first crush: I was about 11 years old and there was this – probably 30-year-old – dark-haired, really handsome man that sang at my Dad’s church. His name was Gene. I thought about him all week and couldn’t wait to see him the next Sunday. That went on for several months but ended abruptly when Dr. Kildare came to television. I actually wrote Richard Chamberlain a letter and received an autographed picture! Then there was Ronnie who was the youth pastor – years older than I was and had a beautiful girlfriend that I was madly jealous of. He treated me like a kid sister and I hated that. But I loved him.
The years passed and high school presented boyfriends – Jerry, Sam, Steve, and Tony. I fell in love with all of them and all of them were completely different – each one very handsome in their own unique way. OK, so that was the younger years and it seems like eons ago now…but I do remember the special feeling I had for each of them. And since that time there has been marriage and divorce and several more interesting relationships. Did I love them too or was it just some special, inexplicable attraction? Did how they look have anything to do with it? Was it the way they dressed and carried themselves? Was it their wit and personality? Their intellect? It’s hard to say. I think for me, it was that special something that simply defies explanation. I think it definitely had to do with what we refer to now as “chemistry.” And not being a chemistry buff, I just am completely ignorant of the formula…. absolutely no clue.
So all that being said, and considering it was so many years later, when I visited Paris, I had a thought: why don’t I just look. Nothing more. Just look. It wasn’t a difficult assignment, I mean, the men were plentiful, and pretty and I found them very interesting and exotic. And I did discover that I liked this new idea, just sitting back and watching, and in doing so, I definitely came to the conclusion that there was something about the way these men looked – their face, their hair, how they carried themselves, how they engaged other people, how they dressed. They seemed more in touch with style. No over-large t-shirts or baggy jeans. No tennis shoes or ball caps. It was refreshing. There were suits! Men in suits! Suits with narrow legs and fitted jackets and dress shoes. And I have to say, I really did enjoy looking, watching. I mean, take away the idea that you need to get to know them, or even meet them; and take out the part about you needing to get into a relationship, and you know what? All the wit, intellect, personality – and whether or not there is chemistry -become quite irrelevant. I mean, there I was, surrounded by all these beautiful men, men of all ages and ethnicities, men going about their day oblivious to the fact that they were being watched. They could be spotted sitting at the sidewalk café sipping an espresso, or walking up the street with their arm around a girl, or sitting back, legs crossed, puffing on a cigar, or my favorite, men in suits traveling via motorcycle. And all I had to do was sit back and enjoy the view. Genius!! It was a revelation, an epiphany – it was like lingering in front of a great Channel window dressing and you’re struck by the beauty and artful design of each gorgeous piece, wondering what it would be like to wear it – to have it – but you choose to walk away, satisfied, because you know it would cost way too much to own – it would empty your pockets – too costly to even consider. You’d wind up broke. And anyway, intuitively, you realized, that after the new wore off, it would most likely wind up squeezed between the coats and the fat jeans in the back of the closet.
I do have to admit though, being in that kind of setting, surrounded by these great looking men, made me feel like a better looking woman. And somehow, being in Paris made it relative – I was part of it – part of the beauty and the mystery of it all. And even though I couldn’t take those beautiful men home with me I knew I could capture their images. So that’s what we did – we captured lots, and lots of images and we had so much fun. And…the part I really love? I had a rich experience that will follow me home … and ladies, as for my pockets – I came home with them full.
Two Sisters in Paris!