So, physical attraction. The sizzle that sparks when one brushes past the other. The eye contact, at first sight, where intensity overrides shyness.
Do the Social Security checks come in, and the pheromones go out?
As I age, I look for signs of my sexual diminution. Forget the biological clock; is there a stop-watch for sex? The usual questions: Did I feel this way when I was in my 20s? How did my youthful hormones color my world, and are the Crayons now down to nubs in this time of estrogen deprivation? If I could transport myself back to, say my 40s, where I had experienced a strong sexual attraction with someone, could I still feel its magic at 65?
In 1989, I was 41. I was a decade and a half away from meeting BF. I was a fashion editor for a metropolitan newspaper, which meant that I experienced many of the same things Anna Wintour did, only my view was five rows back, I never arrived in a long black stretch limo, and couture was a word I wrote, not something I wore. But I got lucky at a Gianni Versace show. The runway was an aisle that stretched from one end of a large warehouse space to the other. The chairs were only four rows deep, and I sat on the front row, just like Anna. (Never mind that the front rows at this show were so long that equal opportunity was unavoidable.) Thank you, Gianni (and rest in peace).
It was the last show of a rainy day, and I had schlepped to my chair, my black trench coat diminished to a wet blanket. Fashion shows run late, and it is often blamed on the models going from one show to another, but celebrities also must make an entrance. And no designer is going to start his show if he knows a paparazzi-worthy figure is due to arrive.
This night was no exception. The empty chair directly across the aisle from me was taken by Prince (of course, his name at the time had just been changed to an unpronounceable symbol, but once a Prince always a Prince). He and I were the same size. Hmmmm, 52, probably the same weight. We could probably wear the same clothes.
Prince and Kim Basinger had just ended a hot affair post-Batman. I (and the rest of the world whose homework was pop news) found that curious. There seemed to be a repulsive side to the ultra-talented musician, yet his androgynous and libidinous image was undeniable. Had he even noticed me, I would not have registered any adjective, derogative or otherwise, on his radar. But here I was, the invisible me, getting a good look at the icon. Tight pants, boots, Nehru-style jacket . . . . and those trademark dark glasses.
I allowed myself to stare. After all, its a reporters right. To observe? But my first-amendment freedom was about to face a challenge. I had started my assessment at Princes high-heel boots, slowly moving up and mentally recording every detail. When I got to his face, he was looking straight at me. Or at least his face seemed was turned in that direction. Its more likely that Prince was composing a song behind those black shades, unless he was assessing me for the sheer pedestrian entertainment of it. Does he know my Armani jacket is fake? (Get to my shoes, Prince, my shoes!) They were true Prada (I had found them in a second-hand shop. The original owner obviously would never be caught dead in last-years clunky version. Add a scuff to the left heel, and the price fit my budget).
I could not see Princes eyes, but I could feel his aura. Or was it just a mystique? It was that not-knowing where he was looking that made me uncomfortable in my own chair. But not in that oh-my-I-forgot-and-wore-white to a wedding (back then, it was still a no-no). Nothing like that. I could feel my skin growing hot. I wanted to lower my eyes, but I could not break my gaze. Finally I managed, just long enough to exchange a hello with the person who took a seat next to me. My head was turned, but my eyes went back to Prince. Was it the dark shadow of the moustache that outlined his full lips? Or his hands, those long fingers adorned with bold rings? A mans hands can speak volumes. Hmmmm, maybe. But no. His wiry frame? No, I prefer a more solid physique in a man.
The lights go down; the show begins. Willowy models start down the concrete aisle, something airy flowing here and something sculptural staying there. Fashion shows are an assembly line of colors and shapes and movements. But each time there was a space between models, I watched Prince.
This fashion show was my seventh that day. I had walked into the show feeling trend-weary, with thoughts of room service back at my hotel. Now I felt electrified. I would never doubt Kim Basinger again.
My across-the-aisle encounter with Prince left its imprint. I cant quite define it, but I know it has to do with ones sexual sense of self. I had no desire to act this out with Prince (I know you were wondering; but he did not offer me a ride back to my hotel in his limo). I did not venture into some sexual fantasy. OK, maybe a little.
It was simply a vibration (not the Beach Boys milk-toast version). More like a sizzle under the skin. Or was it an electrical charge to my brain? Was it more about repulsion than attraction? More about energy than sexuality? Or was Prince just downright sexy?
The reason I am spending so much time this morning pondering this is because fleeting moments of such memorable intensity are just that, fleeting. No one can sustain intensity. And who wants to live in a constant euphoric state, no matter how electrifying? Seriously, we would become calorie deficient and dangerously low on potassium.
But I would like to put that Prince experience in a bottle for application when BF and I have had a significant blow-up, or when familiarity has become the Naugahyde recliner of passivity, or when the to-do list was longer than the day. Or when a shortcoming from the past returns to wound us yet again . . . . shall I count the ways magic is squelched by reality?
So if I could put Prince in a bottle, I think I know the formulation. First, it contains no past or future. It holds only the present. An unknown. No patterns or predictions. And because there is no reference, and there is no expectation, the bottle is filled with only now, which is a mystery and a moment. Mere seconds in time. And therefore intense. Nothing can be wasted because there will be nothing to keep, and there will be nothing to throw away. And there are no refills.
Relationships require time, a vast accumulation of it. To contain it would be like putting Niagara Falls in a Ziploc bag. The Prince moment? More like the flick of a Bic. Who am I kidding? More like a bonfire in a matchbox.