By beauty I am not a star,
There are others more handsome by far.
My face I don't mind it,
For I am behind it.
It's the people in front that I jar.
My city has been invaded by Beautiful People. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) launched late this week, and we're revved for a glamorama: Clooney, Pitt, Zellweger, McAdams, and that's just last night.
Even the assistant beauty is formidable. Women teeter down Bloor Street past Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and velvet-rope bars on needle heels, in very short black dresses. Sometimes the only sign someone is not Someone is their clipboard.
Do you remember the Millihelen? This measure of beauty is attributed to Cambridge mathematician W.A.H. Rushton, and refers to the "face that could launch a thousand ships" in Marlowe's The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus.
I'd put Cate Blanchett at 990 Millihelens. Negative Millihelens are possible, but you won't see this on the red carpet. The "helen" refers to females, but let's extend it to men also, as male beauty will be on display too. Millihectors? Ed Harris, 950! (Oh Ed, over here!)
This amount of sheer physical pulchritude is unusual in Toronto. We have the normal bell-curve distribution you'd expect in a country where food is plentiful and cheap, medical care universal, and the standard of living high: plenty of presentable-to-attractive people and of course all toddlers score 1000 mini-millihelens!
But head-swiveling, heart-stopping, etheral beauty? You might see one person on a given day, but not fifty in the lobby bar of the Four Seasons. Not stabbing at a pink cell phone, leaving Cartier with two bodyguards and a gorgeous assistant, not waving, flushed and excited, from a stage at a premiere.
Stardust, sprinkled over a staid Northern city, makes for fascinating people-watching.