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Pretty Women

Their beauty was to the beauty of women on earth as the glory of the sun was to a lightning bug.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Do you remember Before, when you travelled in social circles where even lightning bugs were pretty exciting?

Neither do I.

These days all the women I know are absurdly stunning, in amazing shape, self-actualized, charismatic, brilliant, ridiculously accomplished and successful, kind and compassionate, multifaceted, wildly popular, warm and magnetic, generally mulitlingual, pedigreed, profound, doing disgustingly interesting things, and...did I mention that they're all great dancers too?

How did so many glorious suns end up in one tiny universe?

We bask in their light, even reflected if that's all we can glean,” said one appreciative man.

I don't see how the men can avoid getting a warped view of womankind, when all the creatures around them are the heavenliest of heavenlies. Women in general are pretty fabulous. They're beautiful, they're complex, they're soft and sweet, they're aesthetically pleasing, they're puzzles, they're mysteries, they're demanding, they're...sigh. They're wonderful. I would change preferences if I could. But tangueras in particular are just ridiculous. They're the most A-list of genetic material out there, and they're all condensed into one community!

I've lived in hotbeds of sickly fabulous women before. In boarding school, the girls were brilliant, accomplished, multifaceted, and slim. Once they all hit seventeen and a half, they all also suddenly became beautiful. But they were too young to have yet acquired the hallmarks of real raging beauty: they were too young to know who they were, too young to have life experience, and too young to be bien dans ses peaux.

In Venice, the women were stylish, polished, and Italian. But they were not all brilliant, and although they acquired a patina of interestingness from their surroundings, they were not all inherently fascinating.

In the conservative, aristocratic slice of Los Angeles that I inhabited, the women had the bodies of Barbie dolls, the laissez-faire of professional flaneurs, and the command of men of the Mata Hari. But not all of them were fascinating and profound.

In Paris, the women were sensitive, feminine, aware, right-sized, wise, elegant, well-read, bien dans ses peaux, and stuffed to the gills with savoir vivre. They were amazing. But they came in a variety of degrees of brilliance and accomplishment.

In the Manhattan theatre world, the women were knockouts, even the ones who weren't actresses. They were magnetic and talented, accomplished and smart and sophisticated, independent, somatically gifted, assertive, exotic, quirky, and they came with a Past. However, they weren't necessarily brilliant, and often the very definition of theatre people is that they're not self-possessed and bien dans ses peaux.

I've known squillions of amazing women. But usually they're like diamonds in a necklace. There's some space between them. A little room to rest, so you can appreciate each individually. The citizens of Tangoland have to cope with an unbroken pavé of diamonds. It's just too much, if you ask me!

Eventually the inevitable happens. There's only so long a mortal can stare at the sun before going blind. Ordinary human men who in other circles might be thrilled by the merest twinkle from one little lightning bug glut themselves on the glories of endless suns and get bored. “So many women,” said one ordinary human man once, thinking wearily of his past conquests the way one thinks of a dinner that was much too large. What world is this that I'm living in, and when did I leave Earth behind, I had to ask myself....

When I lived in Manhattan, I discovered a brand of man I called the Apple Biters, after a passage in one of the Ramona Quimby books. (In it, Ramona has a huge bushel of apples down in the basement, and Beezus comes in and sees that Ramona has taken exactly one bite out of Every Single Apple. “The first bite tastes the best!” Ramona says, and Beezus reluctantly agrees with her.) The Apple Biters knew that for as long as they lived in New York, they would have a neverending flow of Premium AAA-list women coming right to their cave door, with no effort or investment required in turn. So why ever take more than one bite of a woman, when the first bite tastes the best, and there's an endless bushel of them waiting for you?

After I had lived in Tangoland for a while, I wrote a rather gripy post called “Snackers,” (no longer available) comparing women to the cheese cubes often available at milongas. I couldn't understand why the men were so blasé and ADHD about the amazing women surrounding them. Why weren't they just kicking themselves at every opportunity, for their unbelievable good fortune? But now I get it. It's a simple economics lesson.

Supply and demand. If a man knows ten women and one of them is kind of pretty and kind of nice and kind of interesting, he thinks he's super-lucky to know her and will try hard to win her attention. If a man knows a thousand women and every single one of them is a drop-dead-gorgeous Rhodes Scholar who put herself through Harvard by doing Playboy centerfolds and who runs Unicef in her spare time when she's not busy speaking Swahili with the cinematographer of the indy flick she's directing...who give's a rat's ass?

Proof of heaven, as you're living....”

Here's to pretty women.

Pretty women.

Pretty women.