It was the late 1980’s and a Grateful Dead cover band was playing it hot at a local college bar. Across the room I saw her. A classic Deadhead chick in faded jeans and a tie-dye, covered with a loose peasant blouse. She was balancing a beer in a plastic cup while un-self-consciously bopping to the music. To say she was an enticing vision would be an understated lie. She was just outstanding. At 19, I probably fell in love at least twice a week but this moment stood out. I was not the type to approach a girl in a bar and I may have stared a little too intently but it definitely felt like lightning had struck.
As it turned out I eventually got to know this stunning hippy girl, just a little, and away from that moment in time the magic was gone. She was sweet and cute but there was no connection. In retrospect that moment at the bar, aside from my unwieldy 19-year-old ardor, was a great summation of my understandably naïve take on beauty.
Back then I was limited in my perception of so many things. If I were to consider my opinion of what was beautiful at that time it would now seem dated and superficial. I’ll present here, embarrassing as it may be, what might have been my vision of an ideal evening at that time even if it was, in reality, completely out of reach. I’d pick up my date (picture the hippy chick above but really into me) in my new red Porsche 944 (one of the company’s few failed models), we’d have a fine meal at TGI-Friday’s (who knew mozzarella could be deep-fried!) and then we’d head off to the movies to see the latest John Hughes teen angst flick (to this day I still don’t quite understand Eric Stoltz’s big plan in “Some Kind of Wonderful”). I know. This scenario is not appealing.
Cut to 2019 and the world is spinning wildly out of control and we the people are divided. Social media is pervasive and invasive and we’re clearly, as a society, moving forward into unchartered territory in so many ways. As for me, I’m as immersed in the chaos as anyone else but I endure and now I believe, I have a more credible and learned perspective on the subject of what constitutes beauty.
I can now see beauty in so many things that had been inconceivable to me when I was a younger man. Obviously, watching our children grow and evolve is a no-brainer but is also a profound movement away from inherent pre-kids self-absorption. Having worked for many years, I now recognize the allure of someone doing a job, any job, with commitment, honor and excellence. I’ve been fortunate enough to have unexpected friendships that make life more fulfilling and fun. I’m also lucky to still be able to compete athletically at sports I loved as a child. Not to mention the pleasure of good food be it a bacon and egg on a roll or fresh summer peach.
I can now see beauty in so many things that had been inconceivable to me when I was a younger man.
Undoubtedly, the most consistent and important aspect of beauty I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to is my wife. Laurie is the embodiment of gorgeous both physically and spiritually. I’ve known her a long time and am completely secure in our relationship yet I still have moments where I shake my head and say, “How the hell did I achieve this”? On a typical morning, she’ll get dressed for work and ask me how she looks. This daily exchange has occurred for years. My first instinct is usually to say “beautiful” because that’s the truth. However, I usually choose a more work-setting appropriate adjective. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I look forward to that interaction every day.
Way back, at 19, I had another one of those memorable moments not unlike at the bar with the Deadhead chick. A lovely girl pulled up in a funky orange European car wearing a red-sweater and blue jeans. She had stunning coffee-colored eyes that matched her long hair. My heart fluttered a bit as I caught sight of this beautiful young woman. It was years later that we got to know each other well. Of course, it was Laurie and the lesson I’ve learned is that true beauty can even transcend the naivete of youth.