While working on a Rule 5 article about International Monetary Fund executive director Christine Lagarde, a stunning silver-haired six-footer, it struck me perhaps a little harder than usual that (1) I'm spending more time on biography and (2) a woman of 61 is easier to write about than a woman of 21, at least in this highly compressed format, because there's going to be more to say about someone who's been around longer: she has more stories to tell, and perhaps more secrets to keep.

I shook my head and looked around for a moment. There was, of course, no one of the female persuasion within my vision; there almost never is. I did, however, spend a few moments in contemplation of one of the Office Babes, one who's enjoyed (or perhaps has been annoyed by) that status for a couple of decades now. Turn the clock back, and there's your basic good ol' country girl, wrapped loosely enough up top to discourage the small-g gawkers, but always the first to announce the springtime arrival of Shorts Season. The basics haven't changed in twenty years, but the distribution is a tad different: shorts, especially short shorts, are now out of the question, but it's now possible to do Shakespeare from her balcony. It would never have worked out, of course; some time during those two decades, she was the recipient of a ring, which is never coming off her finger. And besides, her end of the conversation is at least as idiosyncratic as mine; I might be able to pass myself off as a bit more scholarly, but she's much better grounded in reality than I'm ever going to be.

I let some of this thinking out of the box in Chapter 6 of The Sparkle Chronicles:

Once upon a time, I was bewailing my comparative lack of luck with the ladies, and a friend suggested that in the light of my, um, limited portfolio of virtues, I would be well advised to be somewhat less selective. "Beggars," he'd said, "can't be choosers, you know." I reminded him that there were beggars all over town, standing in the middle of traffic islands, and that they weren't about to approach a twenty-year-old rustbucket, even with the window down, if there's a Mercedes in line. Sounded choosy enough to me. And anyway, I didn't think I was that picky; a sweet smile and a decent pair of legs, I had said, would get my attention every time.

And indeed they would. But neither is particularly characteristic of the few females who have actually drifted into my orbit; none of them ever presented themselves poorly, but I think my motivation was mostly surprise that anyone would notice me. ("Limited portfolio of virtues," doncha know.) Working against me is what's at the heart of that surprise: the conviction that underneath it all, I am not worthy.

Which is, I suppose, one of the reasons I started doing that Rule 5 stuff to begin with, apart from a couple hundred extra visits per week; it's a way to drain off unnecessary emotional complications without actually doing anything. The very first entry was a sendoff for dancer/actress Cyd Charisse; for reasons I can't recall, I didn't even embed any photos. Then again, I used very few pictures in the early days of the site, while today I wonder if I'm overdoing it.

And I wonder what, if anything, is the common characteristic of the five hundred or so women I've written about, other than my unspoken cry of "Dayum, girl." Some of them have sweet smiles; rather a lot of them have nice legs. But all of them have stories to tell.

The Vent

  26 April 2017

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