Wednesday, May 14, 2008
My Awe Fetish
My, I have become picky in my old age. There was a time, not so long ago, that I could get turned on by a pretty face alone. Okay, a pretty face and a good story. Take for example the character of Sayid on “Lost”: The swarthy good looks drew me in, and the concept of a former torturer from the Iraq Republican Army sealed the deal. (Don’t tell me I’m the only one who has had fantasies of being captured by the flashback version of Sayid.)
A couple years later, I find it just isn’t enough for me anymore. I don’t know if it’s the physical changes happening to me at 51, or the result of my life experiences, or both...but it’s getting so I just can’t get excited without awe. (Davie, don’t worry—husbands are exempt! Not that you aren’t replete with awe, of course.)
This awe fetish isn’t exactly something new. I’ve been into awe ever since I was a teen and in love with Mr. Spock because he was all other-worldly and super smart. I’ve always been a sucker for authority figures, even when it was really a bad idea: like one of the professors at my first husband’s seminary, my boss at the law firm, and my confessor. (Yeah, and he was an archbishop too, not to mention married.) Trust me, not a one of these guys was handsome, much less sexy. But they were, to one degree or another, awe-inspiring.
The guy just has to have something really impressive going for him. It doesn’t matter a whole lot what it is, just that it sparks a little awe.
When I first got interested in hockey, I fell for the goalie on my husband’s favorite team. He was one of the better goalies, don’t get me wrong, but I think I was simply so impressed by the skill it takes to play goal in the NHL that I just glommed on to him. The reflexes, concentration and stamina required by that job just fascinated me. When I met this guy in person I could barely speak, as if I were in the presence of deity. Sometime later he got in trouble with the law and turned out to not really be your most “character” guy, and thus lost all appeal for me. (When the awe goes, so does the desire.)
You are all well aware of my devotion to Les Stroud. Talk about awe-inspiring; well, I’ve done just that enough on this blog in the past. Point is, find a guy who is courageous, a talented filmmaker, and a superb musician, and I’m not sure how ugly you’d have to make him for that fellow not to get me excited. Les is not one bit ugly, and his character hasn’t failed me yet, so he’s one of the few guys currently able to pique my “interest.”
More recently, as you know, I got on my Neil Gaiman kick. (By the way, I finished American Gods and Stardust and just started Fragile Things. I saw “Beowulf,” too—best thing about it was Neil’s screenplay.) Now there are a lot of authors I very much admire, whose work I love to read. I would call Stephen King, John Updike, and William Goldman all genius contemporary authors. But for reasons I can’t explain, they do not provoke from me the awe that Neil Gaiman’s writing does. It may be that he so often has the voice of some charming and brilliant 19th Century Briton, I don’t know. But there is so much richness and profundity in his work, it just blows my mind.
And with me, blown-mind is the ultimate turn-on.
You get the picture: professor, priest, athlete, daredevil, musician, artist...whatever it is in a person or character that makes me feel amazed and humble, that’s what gets to me. I don’t care if he’s drop-dead gorgeous, has six-pack abs, or is an alpha male oozing sexuality. If he has some startling talent, if he has accomplished some remarkable achievement, or if he is simply unique and special and somehow out-of-this-world, he’s my guy.
Now there’s one serious downside to having an awe fetish, my friends, and here it is: People are (oh curse the dreadful truth!) only human. Just as those gorgeous centerfold chicks in Playboy are air-brushed and otherwise enhanced, my awe-inspiring men have plenty of faults as well. I have learned for the sake of my fantasy life not to inquire too deeply into their real lives. Better still, I look for fictional characters whenever I can; Faramir (“Lord of the Rings”) is not going to lose his glamour by turning out to have bet on dog fights or something.
Please post if you too have an awe fetish. I fear I may be the only one. Perhaps we can form a support group. I think creating a clearinghouse for guys who inspire awe would be very helpful.
In the meanwhile, I’m going to keep reading Fragile Things and having Neil Gaiman haunt my dreams.