The Gifts Outright

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The Gifts Outright

And no it ain’t about Jesus

Handsome and Pretty

I never realized and never gave much thought to the notion that I was once considered handsome by some of the ladies. Throughout my life: some girls liked my eyelashes (and some went even further, “You have such lovely eyes”). Some women loved my hands (“Oh my, do you play piano? You should!” Apparently, if one has long, thin fingers, not yet bent and crippled by Dupuytren’s Contraction or arthritis, it is required, from birth, to also have musical talent.)

For many of years, I had a full bushy beard and even a full head of hair for a while. And even when I started balding in my mid-20s and tried the comb-over thing up to my early 30s, I didn’t see much drop-off in women’s reactions to me.

At a shade over 6’ in my shoes/boots, I was taller than most people, especially girls/women. And I was kind or tried to be, and desperate to be liked and loved but above all, I’d been handed good genes from the start, a gift outright. I’m pretty sure science has confirmed that good looks are more a product of genetics than prayer.

I sometimes wore a jean jacket, sometimes a leather one (usually black) and I almost always had a motorcycle.

Sometimes I wore an earring. Sometimes two earrings in one ear (my left). And I always wore clothes that looked appropriate for manual labor or looking “butch” in a gay bar of the ’70s-’80s (from what I’ve heard).

Looking back, what I remember best, I could always make the ladies smile and nearly as often, laugh. And the deeper and louder their laughs, the better our chances were of becoming much closer later in the evening.

But my looks, I never thought much about. It’s a thing you take for granted, I suppose, only later realizing that it is either a gift or a curse— and sometimes, maybe often, both.

My hero, Charles Bukowski, familiarized me with what existence was like for the “ugly.” He was one of the least handsome men of his or any era. He had nicknames like “The Hunchback of East Hollywood,” and had been horribly scared and disfigured by acne as a teen.

The Gifts Outright

Bukowski Public Domain

Buk once said, “The ugly may be beautiful . . . the pretty, never.”

I’ve always been attracted to pretty women, as I think most men have, but as the years have passed, Buk’s comment made more and more sense to me.

Being a pretty woman has burdens and costs unique to that reality, I’m sure. This often shows up in the ways “pretty” changes and becomes unpretty

I think that the gift outright of being attractive is better than the curse of being considered unattractive, but let’s acknowledge that every way of being a human has its plusses and minuses.

The other day, approaching age 75, I glanced into the well-lit bathroom mirror, close-up, to see how my new glasses looked:

And holy shit!! I’d become an old man!!

I’m not sure how to end this thing: I guess I’m glad I had such good luck for as long as I did. And I guess I’m a bit disappointed that my luck finally ran out.

On the plus side, my new glasses seem to look okay.

But I’m afraid to say, they aren’t helping much.

Handsome and pretty. Tall/short. Thin/fat. Smart/stupid. There are lots of conditions about which we can do very little to change, and about which we rarely even think or consider because we see them as ourselves or as such a seminal part of who we are that there isn’t much point thinking about it.

Free advice, and praying to change it don’t work either.

I was handsome once (or considered to be, by many people in my world).

I am no longer considered in the same way. If you are handsome or pretty, your day will come too.

The Gifts Outright

Portrait by Deborah A. Cole

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