Monday, April 20, 2009

My Perfect Woman #1: Imperfection

While it may be something of a surprise (though probably not much, if you know me), it turns out that the most important qualities to me are problems. The thing is, there's really no perfect person, and if there were, she'd be somewhat boring and insufferable, and certainly taken at any rate.

In the end, I think it is our own personal miseries that make us interesting, to the extent that any of us can claim to be. Below are the imperfections I'd want in a perfect girl.

1. Basket Case

There is this scene in Broadcast News where Holly Hunter breaks down and weeps, for about thirty seconds, and then she dashes off to face the world. She is a load bearer, the Hollywood prototype for an entire lineage of (what are now sort of cliched) professionally fulfilled, social basket cases. Carried on her slender shoulders are all the insecurities of two or three normal people.

These weigh her down not because they are so heavy in themselves, though they may be, but rather because she thinks about them, she knows them, and they represent everything she doesn't want to be, but inevitably is. There is something about the nobility of anyone willing to struggle against such a burden that I find incredibly compelling.

2. Mercurial

I am attracted to people who are just slightly unstable. I'm not talking about a crazy knife girl or anything, but it is exciting when you're never quite sure what another person is going to do. More than that, though, I like people with fickle moods.

Maybe because I'm somewhat reserved, I would want someone whose feelings come on suddenly, like a summer storm, only to burn out in a violent flare of emotional activity. My perfect girl isn't a drama queen, but a tempest of feeling, aspiration, and insecurity that is, even at best, only imperfectly contained.

3. Lonely

My perfect woman would be, in some sense, a lonely woman. There would be a part of her that was distant to the world, too fragile to survive exposure even to those closest to her. But while she wouldn't share it, she would indulge it with occasional bouts of solitude, or at least the longing for it when life makes actual seclusion impractical.

Greta Garbo once famously proclaimed that she "wanted to be left alone," and that is a sentiment my ideal mate would understand.

4. Regrets

At the center of all compelling personalities is a sadness that never really goes away. In her own way, my perfect girl would be a profoundly sad person. She would have numerous regrets accumulated over the course of her life. Some of them may be a bit whimsical, like childhood aspirations of becoming an astronaut.

Others would be more profound. A lost love or a broken friendship. The relationship she wanted but never had with her mother. Paths not taken or choices made because of fear of failure, or success, or abandonment.

These she would keep and at times consider, and they would stay with her and form an undeniable part of who she was.

5. Unattainable

Lastly, my perfect woman would be, to put it simply, unattainable. Whether through distance of geography or sentiment, commitment to another person, absolute dedication to a cause, or even just a simple dislike of me personally.

Part of this is psychological. Her unavailability relieves me of the responsibility to pursue the matter any further, and that is a concept that comforts my numerous crippling personal insecurities. Part of it is just a "grass is greener" effect. She looks better if someone else has her.

The truth is, for whatever reason (and probably for multiple), I have very little interest in romance. Admittedly I have the same feelings as anyone else, and even occasionally the same inability to properly control them. Even so, I regard such pursuits generally with suspicion and even, though it is somewhat unbecoming, a certain degree of disdain. So my perfect girl would be someone who, perhaps at the start inspired some of the higher and lower passions, is intellectually and even to a degree emotionally compatible, but ultimately socially unavailable.

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