A world of beautiful girls

Thursday, April 26, 2007

April 26, 2007

Dear Pat,

Ten years ago the movie "Beautiful Girls" made much of the preoccupations and problems boys have becoming men because girls are so beautiful. Willie, home from New York City to see his sad father and brother and hang out with friends from high school, finds a sounding board in Marty, an old soul of a 13-year-old girl who now lives next door.

Marty: "If I'm not mistaken, you've come back here to the house of loneliness and tears, to Daddy Downer and Brother Bummer, to come to some sort of decision about life, a life decision if you will."

Willie actually thinks about waiting around long enough for Marty to grow up rather than confront the grownup choices his girlfriend represents.

For boys, some of the anxiety of growing up is because you girls are so beautiful to us. We're afraid to disappoint you with our ordinariness. I don't know whether girls really know that.

Part of it's about sugar and spice, though these days the recipe may be heavier on the spice than it used to be. Boys adore the otherness.

But being captivated by the way girls look and are seems to be hard-wired into most males' brains. Males don't think about why.

Part of the fascination of beautiful females for males is that they scare many of us. In Big Sur in the 1980s I was surrounded by beautiful girls from all over the world. A few were particularly scary because they were especially beautiful. It became my mission to get to know them instead of just staring at their faces. That wasn't easy but it happened, a breakthrough for me in the quest to become a man.

After 13 years of marriage I've discovered that the otherness that attracted me in DC can be just as surely confounding. Some days nothing she does fits into my concept of logical. I remind myself that one of the beauties that attracted me to DC is the mystery of how her mind works. I like mysteries.

In "Beautiful Girls," one of the male friends cheats on his sweetheart of a girlfriend without much consideration of the consequences. Another wallpapers his room with photographs of models, who he considers the ultimate in what a man wants in a woman. He'll be some years in the School of Men Who Need to Grow Up.

Today I saw the first pictures of a beautiful girl. Her name is Sophia Christine Leiner. Tuesday she became the daughter of our friends Angie and Jordan, weighing in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces. She has black hair and dark brown eyes like her father and has her mother's pretty face.

Sophia's father plays guitar for a band called the Melroys. Jordan's dad, Randy, played in the band, too. Randy died unexpectedly a little more than two years ago, leaving lots of us friends wanting to watch over Jordan and his brother Noah a bit in Randy's absence. They don't need it, but we still feel that way.

Randy loved beautiful girls, too. One of his best songs, "Laverne," is about the charms of his wife, Sally.

He would have loved this new beautiful girl most of all.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is managing editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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