|Jinny is having minor surgery to improve her eyesight so I will be writing her article for the next 4-6 weeks. We both appreciate your patience and are confident that she will be back writing her article soon...Adele
Last night I watched a popular television show with my 13 year old, Chuck, that involves one man going around the country in search of the dirtiest and most disgusting jobs on earth and doing them. We watch this show fairly often and I generally enjoy it, partly because the host is an amusing and intelligent guy, and partly because the jobs and locations are interesting. Last night he happened to be on the coast of Maine with a bunch of fisherman who were catching slime eels, easily one of the most hideous and disgusting creatures in the sea, which is saying a great deal considering that the competition is pretty stiff. I'm fairly certain that only the threat of painful torture and death would induce me to handle a slime eel.
There are occasions during the course of this show when I can't even look at whatever they are doing and hope to keep my recently devoured supper in my stomach. I confess to looking away several times during the slime eel segment. I only kept watching at all because I love to see the camera shots of Maine and I had to find out what on earth anybody even wanted a slime eel for. It turns out that the Koreans make wallets and handbags out of them. If my kids gave me a slime eel handbag for Mother's Day I would be very disappointed in them. Yuck.
Despite the fact that the host is frequently covered with some of the most unimaginably disgusting stuff on earth, I find him very appealing and attractive. My oldest son informed me that he grew up on a pig farm and began his career as an opera singer. I found this amazing. The transition from pig farmer to opera singer to amusing and filthy TV host strikes me as an oddly fascinating and unusual one. Not your average career path, surely. Here he is running around the country doing interesting but thoroughly nasty jobs and getting absolutely filthy, while he used to dress up in elaborate costumes and sing opera, a refined and highly disciplined occupation that is about as removed from slime eel fishing as anything could possibly be.
I find this kind of multi-dimensional dichotomy in people absolutely delightful. It makes for such fascinating characteristics in human beings. I once read about an astrophysicist whose hobby was knitting. He made beautiful sweaters and scarves and hats. Maybe he was a string theory guy. Whatever he was, he found great pleasure in sitting down with the old knitting needles after a hard day at the office discovering the origins of the universe, and knocking out a pair of mittens.
Do you remember the old James Bond movie that opened with Bond coming onto the beach from the ocean in a full wet suit and scuba gear and removing it to reveal that underneath he was wearing a perfectly tailored tuxedo? I loved that scene and consider it a metaphor for what I'm talking about. On the one hand, Bond was a rough and tumble guy who was fit and athletic and good in a fight, and on the other hand, he was also this incredibly sophisticated, intelligent, elegant fellow who wore a tuxedo like a second skin and ordered his dinner in French. I love it.
I find this juxtaposition of tough manliness and elegant sophistication in men very attractive. My father was a man who could fix the car, build a house, and play tennis with you, then clean up, put on a beautiful suit that he wore with great comfort and ease, and go with you to the ballet. He had grown up owning two tuxedos and graduated from college and then decided that he would take off for Alaska, the last frontier, to be a miner in the wilderness under the most wild and primitive conditions. He could teach you how to change the oil in your car and the workings of the internal combustion engine one day, and recount in detail, the teachings of Socrates or Caesar's campaign in Gaul the next. He was a veritable font of information of all kinds and our friends considered him the smartest father on earth.
Of course, he didn't know everything and he wasn't the smartest man on earth, but he was what we like to call a true Renaissance Man; a man who was interested in many things and never limited himself or the scope of his knowledge by ignoring or dismissing anything outside his personal background or experience. That is what made him unique.
Sadly, as the world becomes ever more specialized and narrow, Renaissance Men seem to be going the way of the dinosaur. I don't want a man to be overly macho or to know or be able to do only one thing well, or one who thinks that wearing a tie and a nice suit is a form of torture, or one that has less body hair or uses more beauty products than I do and can't screw in a light bulb. I want a guy who is interested in many things, can harvest slime eels without fainting, and then come home and sing me an aria. That would be cool.