Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On Charm

Charm is disarming, and if used conscientiously, can open the way to authentic moments for anyone, from the most elderly to the youngest and from any background and identity.

Flirtation once meant playing at being in love, in the anachronistic sense that making love meant a young man sitting beside a young lady as a suitor, and the rest was disarming ways of meeting and dancing with acquaintances whether of the evening or longstanding knowledge enough to evoke memories of grammar school.

In these disturbing times, it means coyly sexual under the guise of friendliness through subtle manipulations of length and meaningfulness of eye contact and a certain spin on how one touches the other at best, in order to better cement the camaraderie through a simultaneously gooey and arousing moment where both parties recognize they are mutually hot and can better focus on the possible benefits of networking (no one has time to spend with people too far afield from their field these days).

Seduction, once terribly strategic and as lengthy as Choderlos de Laclos' Dangerous Liaisons, was a dangerous and risky tightrope between either successful intrigue or death by duels or fatal illnesses contracted by a body and soul laid to waste by permanent and catastrophic heartbreak, or the near death of banishment in humiliation and shame from courtly society dealt with by a secretive coach ride into the night towards a foreign country or immediate imprisonment in a nunnery for life for the now unmarriagable young woman. All under a mask of charm never allowed to drop for a second.

There is no seduction nowadays where all the men are cowards and the women are easy; only bars and pickup lines for the Fast Food Nation, and hookups by phone or via the internet that may possibly become "relationships" if women follow the Rules book - relationships that could last weeks or even months, be pushed towards and into cohabitation by the first person who needs it first, eventually followed by a costly wedding that will increase either the bride's parents' debt load or the couples' by an extravagant amount in most current demographics.

Marriage between those of privilege is two viable salaries wedded to two very firm value systems who find they have much in common, including producing and launching one or two extraordinarily viable children. Or the very newly minted monied who pick the beauty queens of the coyly sexual type to make them the newly motherly bling queens to produce heirs and accessories to their big hearts' warm consumer desires.

Which leaves charm for finding true friendship and true love (and in the platonic world, that is willing to go the distance, there is no difference) and letting chemistry alchemize into magic - which turns the charm into mutual enchantment. In other words, a way of gazing at each other in a conversation that lasts a lifetime, and protects the little ones born into the magic circle when they leave it armed with the old world charm needed to negotiate and enliven the networking and internet engaged American urbanites, and the better to observe the mores and customs of any sub, counter and foreign culture they may find themselves in, qnd politely and confidently and above all intelligently let them work their magic on you.

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