At a summer picnic with our friends Beth and J., we spoke of the death, on July 10, of Omar Sharif. The elegant Egyptian actor was, and is, Beth's type. Sharif cast his spell when, in early adolescence, she saw Dr. Zhivago. Her attraction to Arab men, preferably with beards, was set; in due time, she married J., a dashing example.
We reminisced about those early influences, the charismatic men and women (usually seen on stage and screen) who shaped our attraction to real-life persons. The great beauties (Taylor, Gardner, Bergman) were mentioned, as well as idiosyncratic, bold stunners like Juliette Greco.
Though of course we are not attracted by looks alone, we can't deny that "When you see a stranger, across a crowded room", the enchanted evening debuts with a stirring of desire.
I asked, Who is a man or woman presently your age, who holds that allure? J. and Le Duc contributed examples; J. was mildly piqued that I discounted his admiration of Julie Christie because of her cosmetic surgery.
Helen Mirren did not garner a flicker, but the sample was small. The guys nodded enthusiastically at the mention of Sophia Loren, though I suspect they are recalling a film image rather than the red carpet looks she has essayed recently.
Patti Smith was controversial; Beth and I find her compelling, the men did not. Everybody agreed on Susan Sarandon.
As we age, we ought to maintain a frank admiration for the beauty of the species. We never stop admiring a fine dog or cat, so why not humans, whether the man in line at the grocery or Sam Elliott?
And by "the species", I include every age, not just the toned twenties to polished forties. Jack Nicholson (known as an experienced appreciator) once said that he saw a TV interview with an author who was past eighty, and was surprised to find himself deeply attracted to her beauty and eloquence. On the surface, his remark may be taken as sexist, but I also found it affirming.
Do I have a type? My preference is not as precise as Beth's, but I've always liked men who have a good chin and definite shoulders, wear clothes well (but are not dandyish), and project a palpable worldliness. At its supreme expression, that would be Marcello Mastroianni.
|Quello che un bell'uomo!|
I am not alone; a local grocery store's proprietor has hung his portrait above her pastry display.
And you? What is your type?