Let’s get shallow for a moment. It’s Friday.
There’s a classic South Park episode called The List, where the girls make a list of the cutest boys in class, ranking Clyde (not especially cute) first and Kyle (cuter) last. Behind Cartman even. The List falls into enemy hands (the boys) where its contents set in motion a moral tale about looks and labels.
Knowing that the girls find him the cutest boy in class, Clyde wears it like a rock star. He walks taller, he flirts, he stops developing his personality. Meanwhile, Kyle plots to burn down the school. I suppose because arson goes hand-in-hand with being voted the ugliest boy in class. Sadly, I may not be far off there, but that’s a topic for a different blog.
Wendy, one of the girls on the List Committee, decides to investigate the voting to see why Kyle was crowned ugly, as a favor to her ex-boyfriend Stan. She discovers that the list was tampered with by Rebecca so Clyde would would reign supreme (during final deliberation of the list, Clyde actually only got a glitter rating of one sparkle from 6 girls), all so the girls could get free shoes from his Dad’s shoe store. When confronted in dramatic fashion by Wendy, Rebecca confesses, “A lot of us wanted to date Clyde to get free shoes but couldn’t because he wasn’t popular enough.” Hence List-Gate.
(I have to interrupt myself to share something Mr. Jackpot once said: “Without generalizations there would be no humor.” South Park is a perfect illustration of that premise.)
Back in Kyle’s bedroom, Abraham Lincoln appears. He’s come to share his wisdom on the benefits of being ugly with Kyle. (If you don’t have time to watch the whole episode – oh, but you should – you must hit up the 13 minute mark to fully embrace Abe in all his glory.) He takes Kyle on a ‘Ghost of Beauty Past Her Prime’ tour, visiting Nancy, the prettiest girl in school. Abe says, “The boys told her she was special, funny, interesting. But that’s only because she was hot.” Now Nancy is “40 and as interesting and special as a wet carrot.”
Then he takes Kyle to see his “new ugly friend” Jamal, (Friends by default – the ugly kids have to hang out together in the lunch room.) who is busting his knuckles on the keys of a piano, perfecting his craft. “Jamal,” Abe says, “has to work at making something of himself. But that work is going to pay off as an adult. He will have character. Something kids who are hot rarely develop.”
He then takes him to witness Clyde kicking it on the couch and chatting up a hottie. “Now that he knows he is good looking he doesn’t have to make any effort to be special. Now his life will be about girls. Chatting with them on the phone and buying them shoes. He will most likely marry very young and not realize until age 40 that he’s a total douche.”
Abe pauses to reflect. “So you see, Kyle, it’s actually the beautiful kids that are cursed.” Kyle realizes that he would have to endure the hardship of his new-found ugliness until he becomes an adult with character to realize his full potential.
“But I can’t wait to be an adult to be happy. That’s forever from now.”
(Dear Trey Parker and Matt Stone, I love you. Cleo)
Living beings are attracted to the shiny. Animals, people, male, female – on a primal level we are all attracted to the sparkly and glittery. When I met The Genius I fell right into that trap.
We were both in an exciting phase in our lives. I was killing it in my career, living in a swank little one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city, driving around in my convertible Saab, with a share in a house in the Hamptons and a killer wardrobe. He was a musician. Dark curls, bedroom eyes, dreamy voice and the ability to make a guitar shudder just by picking it up. We collided at one of his shows. That night he left to go on the road.
10 weeks later we were engaged.
How’s that for being blinded by the shiny?
In the brief time we were together during those 10 weeks we talked. And talked. We wore each others glitter well, basking in the glow of an exciting romance in its infancy. We asked questions about each others beliefs, goals and dreams, but mainly we played. And then we decided we had what it took to marry for life. Because it all felt so very right.
That 50-50 shot I had at picking the right guy to marry didn’t fall my way.
For a girl who likes to go deep, and I do, why did I not delve into The Genius? Why did I take him at shiny-value? Is it possible that I didn’t value my own self enough to thoroughly vet the man I was about to commit to for the rest of my days? Was I trying to make all the pieces fit together by remaining at the surface, afraid to discover that a major one might not, in an effort to keep the shiny all for myself?
If that’s true, that nauseates me. And now, seconds later, that makes me very sad.
Perhaps I couldn’t value what I didn’t understand. I had my head so far up my career that I’m surprised I could even manage to date someone. What I didn’t take the time to do was allow myself to question what was important to me. I did not make a list. And I should have taken the time to do that.
I received a private email from JP about the soul-searching, list-making journey she embarked upon after the demise of her first marriage.
“It’s a real eye opener to sit down and look at the type of person you’ve always tended toward and see how much (or little) that agrees with what you need fundamentally in a relationship.”
I read that sentence and can apply it to many areas of my life. I have a tendency to like certain things/people/places, and to like them in certain ways. But does it agree with my fundamental needs? (Not wants, needs. Not what I want it to look like but what my soul needs it to look like.) Do I even know what those needs are? More importantly, am I unwilling to compromise on them? Can you not compromise on that which you don’t know?
I have this feeling in my gut that the most challenging (scary) area of growth for me is going to center on shedding my attachment to what I think “IT” is supposed to look like and discovering what “IT” needs to look like in order for me to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes. Which is just the kind of coming out party I need.
Funny, I thought for sure that by bringing up South Park I wouldn’t get all heady and deep on a Friday.
PS: Get ready for the debut of the HGM Gallery next week. Miss Capture, a certain Pulitzer-prize-winning photographer who says it like it is, says, “For a blog that is so freaking personal you have to get rid of those crappy google images and start taking your own photographs.” I listen to her.