What I’m about to say isn’t going to make you love me. It isn’t PC, and it certainly wouldn’t get high marks from the judges in a beauty pageant question and answer round. It is shallow, and a thing that none of us are supposed to say. But it is also honest:
Looks matter to me. Sometimes a lot.
Yesterday, when I saw a couple giddily feeding each other French fries while giving each other I-love-you eyes through the front window of a bistro, my first thought was, “He’s kind of fugs. She can do better.” I don’t get why gorgeous, awesome women continually flock to Adam Duritz—even though he is the frontman of a band I loved in middle school, the dude looks far too much like Sideshow Bob for me ever to consider romantically. I’ll even admit that earlier this year, during a friend’s wedding, I found my mind wandering and thinking, “He is great—but how did she get over the fact that he has the sex appeal of a tomato?”
Now I’m not saying that everyone I’ve dated, slept with, or called my boyfriend has been a supermodel. But I do think that, for the most part, they’ve all been at least as attractive as I am, if not more so. Some have had physical flaws, sure, but I could stare at each of them for hours. For each, there is something I loved about their appearance—the flints of turquoise in their blue eyes, a bicep that dented the fabric around it, the gently curved planes of their face, or a dimple so deep it look cut by an exacto knife.
So what brought on this sudden soul searching? Meeting Scruffy Beard. After a dry spell and a few genuinely horrible internet dates, I didn’t feel all that hopeful as I walked to meet him at a nice restaurant in downtown Manhattan. I’d liked our email banter, and truly appreciated that he was taking me to an establishment where tater tots didn’t come free with a beer. But one question had lingered in my mind since seeing his profile: Could I be attracted to him?
As the hostess seated us at a cozy table, I felt a sick feeling developing in my stomach. The answer was no. It’s not that he was ugly, exactly. More just … not that attractive. He was tall, but a bit chubby. He had decent style, but a beard that was far too long and horribly uneven in parts. His eyes were a touch beady, and I found myself focusing on his crooked front teeth. Oh no, I thought. Am I really in for another blah date? I started to feel paranoid that, just as I’d judged that couple eating French fries, everyone in the restaurant was questioning why I was out on a date with this guy.
But as Scruffy Beard ordered a bottle of wine and we started talking, something kind of amazing happened. I relaxed. There was no awkward groping for information—no stilted get-to-know-you-questions like “What do you do?” and “Where are you from?” All that information came out in a natural flow as we chatted about specifics of our lives rather than our biographies. I was interested in what he had to say and felt that returned. The questions he asked were far more insightful and dug a little deeper than most guys I first meet, and he was willing to go there when I returned in kind. And there was laughter—a lot of it—as well as some fun debates.
As we paid the check and he said, “I had a great time,” I felt a little disappointed. Is he really not going to kiss me? I thought. Or at least suggest that we go for more drinks? That would inevitably lead to kissing?
Outside on the street, I could tell he needed a signal that he could make a move. I reached for his hand. And finally he went in for the kiss—soft and slow, just the way I like it. We stayed there for what must have been 10 minutes, each kiss getting breathier and more intense. I felt his hands on my butt, and I liked his boldness. In the cab ride home, I felt hornier than I had in weeks.
Scruffy Beard may not be conventionally attractive but, at least in this point in the game, he’s attractive to me. I feel that same chemical pull to him that I do to the guys I think are hot on the first glance.
This whole thing has me thinking a lot about why some women are hung up on looks, why some women are able to push past it, and why I am in the first category. I worry that this has to do with some insecurity I haven’t shaken. Every celebrity says it, but for me it’s true—feeling beautiful is a new thing for me. In high school, I had braces and acne. And until college, I was overweight. I always felt like my exterior didn’t match my interior and landing a good-looking boyfriend who adored me, and whom I adored back, made me feel more … worthy. And that’s something I need to shake now that I feel worthy in and of myself. Heck, I’m looking for love—not America’s Next Top Male Model.
I’m seeing Scruffy Beard again tomorrow night, and I’m feeling a little nervous. First, because it’s been a little while since there was someone I was interested in, and I’m scared to lose that vibrating-on-a-higher-plane feeling. I very much hope that our chemistry is still there, and that I don’t get hung up on appearance. I think I need to take baby steps here. First step: Do I like him? If yes, move foot forward.