Sirens: Rare breed of woman

My friend, "Laura" was a great beauty: a six-foot blonde goddess, figure like Scarlett Johansson's, raucous, ready laugh. When I hear the term "siren" I think of her reflexively.

We met in the early 80s. She was a model, singer in a rock band, major domo for one of the world's most-recognized celebrities, proprietor of a specialty bookstore in a tourist mecca, and corporate headhunter- pretty much in that order. Married once, engaged countless times, rarely lacking company, usually lacking money.

The stories I could tell (but I hear she is writing a book)! The time she came to visit and on the bus en route from the airport, a man who was arriving for his wedding told her he'd call it off, if she would give him a chance.

When we went to a restaurant or club, there would be notes, drinks, entreaties; the band sat with us. I knew that if we agreed to meet anywhere in public I would have to peel a couple of men away before we could talk.

I have never seen anything like it before or since. If we were invited to a Saturday evening dinner party at my friends', she would say, "Well, I hope I don't get a phone call too early in the morning", because any man unattached (or sometimes not) would be certain to invite her to brunch on Sunday.

She did not spend time with married men except for one heartbreaking liaison early on, which turned her away from that route forever. She got into occasional scrapes. I'd get a call in the middle of my workday: "I need to come see you, is it OK?" She'd be on some yacht, but it was time to leave a demanding or unstable host.

When I visited her in California, we would either tour ex-lovers she considered amusing, or take the back roads to avoid new ones so we could talk.

Reminiscing about those siren years, she said, "Really, the only difference between you and me was, I always knew that with a little cleavage and the right attitude I could leave with any man in the place."

She was a firm believer in being blonde, showing some assets, silk and heels. She kept several dozen recipes in her memory, could whip them up on a moment's notice while chatting about the F1 racing team she'd managed. A geisha, she knew how to create a blissful environment that somehow ended up with men wanting to do everything for her.

At 60-plus
, she was relieved, finally, at not having men respond first or often only to her looks. She also missed the reliable power that her beauty represented. Laura had many other qualities- humour, kindness, generosity- much more than a gorgeous face.

We have lost touch, though given her peripatetic ways, likely not forever. Such is the siren's path, to enter lives and drench them in an aura of glamour,
intrigue and romance, then flutter away with a smile.


Susan B said…
Ah, I had a friend like that. She looked a bit like Susan Sarandon, only prettier, if that's possible. Men flocked to her, and I heard them telling her "you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen!" Like your friend, she used it, but it also bothered her that men couldn't seem to see past her looks. When I'd mention how attractive she was, she'd say "eh, that and fifty cents will get me a cup of coffee." (This was the 80's and you could still get a cup of coffee for .50.) Sadly, beauty does not always equal happiness; she had a tumultuous love life, substance problems, and we lost touch after a while. I think of her to remind myself that beauty isn't everything.
Anonymous said…
I think it is MUCH harder for beautiful people to age. They've been lauded their whole adult lives for their looks, and they've probably eaten it up.

Imagine being Scarlett Johanssen (who has acknowledged that "this face won't last forever." If you're given that much beauty it would be hard to see it fade.

But that said, some of these women are extremely beautiful as they age. I love Helen Mirren's looks. It seems like Jane Fonda takes care of herself, with or without the surgery she has intelligence and a nice smile.
Anonymous said…
Great description. I feel as if I read a novel in which she starred.
materfamilias said…
What an engaging cameo you've sketched -- I hope your paths do cross again!
Mardel said…
Really what an interesting portrait you have painted of your friend. It sounds like she has survived her youth well.
Anonymous said…
I gave up the siren thing when I was about 29 as I decided it was a short range plan. Although it was fun...It is odd that at the time I didn't know I was beautiful ( of course not as spectacular as your friend - but good enough to siren. I just thought that all men liked sex and chased every woman. It took me until age 55 to figure it out and then I had to take responsibility for the gift. If only I had known then.

And I have no doubt that La Duchesse and I would have made a spectacular siren team - still can - if we wanted.

Anonymous said…
I don't know. I see many, many women who look better as they get older.

Speaking of sirens - I love Joan Collins! She is 76 years old and still incredibly glamorous.

I have a friend in DC who is over 80 and is still very glamorous..She also has the most beautiful smile and impeccable manners. Men - yes even young men love to bask in her presence. At 83, it's not lust, I know, but they still think she's beautiful and clamor to her for attention.
I've never known anyone that beautiful or glamorous, but I can imagine that it would be hard for a woman that beautiful to age and lose her looks.

Your friends sounds like she was pretty fun to know though!

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