I'm standing on the Santa Monica 3rd street promenade watching people dance in the street. Fred is the most popular dancer here. He shows up every Sunday. In real life he works for the telephone company. He spends his days climbing poles and crimping wire. He's also a single dad who plays Dungeons and Dragons with his fourteen year old son and his friends twice a week. But here everyone calls him Mr. Cool. You won't notice unless you look for it but there's a queue to dance with Mr. Cool. Women, as they dance with other partners keep an eye on him. If there's a hint of an opening they dash over. Women in their haste sometimes bump into each other. He waits with a smile letting them work it out between themselves.
"Oh no, I'm sorry. You look fabulous in that dress. Is that Vera Wang? Do you mind waiting?"
"Thanks. I was waiting after Carla actually. But you go ahead. Those feathers are to die for."
"Oh these? They're nothing. You are so nice. Are you sure you don't mind? I promise not to wear him out."
"It's okay. Go ahead."
She turns away. "Fucking bitch."
There's a pecking order when it comes to dancing with Mr. Cool. Grande dames first, then pros, then regulars then everybody else.
Once in a while a 'hussy' will jump the queue. Over the next couple weeks, the rest of the girls will push her out of the group. No one talks to her or shares their baby powder. The faux pas is unforgivable.
Mr. Cool could never be a pro dancer. He doesn't do the things pros do. He's not flashy. He shows up wearing jeans and a Rolling Stones T-Shirt. He's unshaven and doesn't give a damn about accolades.
"It must be exhausting dancing out there," I say to a dancer standing on the sideline drinking water.
"It's fun," she says. "Why don't you give it a try?"
I look down at my feet wondering about their ability to move like the ones attached to the people I see in front of me. They look woefully unprepared. "I might later," I say. "I saw you dance. You move well. I like when you do that thing with your arm above your head."
"That's just style."
"Ah, I see. I thought it was a special move. How about that girl?" I gesture towards the girl dancing with Mr. Cool.
"Her foot's sloppy on her spins. But it's all about having fun, right?"
"Sure. I guess I don't have the eye to spot that. She looks hot to me."
"That's because she's dancing with Fred. He makes her look good."
"Yeah, I noticed he has a way. I might call it sexy."
"Hell yeah. That's why I'm dating him. See how he brings her out of the turn? Nobody does that better. First time he did that to me I knew I had to sleep with him."
I look surprised.
"Sorry," she said. "Didn't mean to put it so crudely. Dancers are like that. We don't have secrets. It's all so physical, you know?"
"No worries. First time I saw my wife open a bottle of wine I knew I had to sleep with her."
"It's amazing watching him. What makes him so good?"
"He doesn't try to make himself look good. His dancing is all about making his partner look good. No one has ever brought their sensual side out like that. He makes them sexy."
Mr. Cool - Fred, brought out his partner's best; their beauty, bravery, animal physicality. The closest thing to a parallel I know is the way fashion models can feel about certain fashion photographers such as Javier Vallhonrat or Aaron Feaver, men able to make those women look even better.
"Does it make you jealous that these women are turned on by your boyfriend?"
She laughed then. "No. "
Mr. Cool held his palm out and smiled to the girl approaching him to dance. "Want to take a break with me?" he said.
She nodded. They walked over near us. He drank water and they laughed at something together.
The woman I was talking with stepped away from me and slipped her arm around Mr. Cool. His sweat ran over her arm. He caught my eye then and smiled.
Advice based on this principle:
- Try to get out of your own way. If you're so intent on proving yourself to people you leave no room for them to show you their sexy side.
- Find out what qualities your friends and lovers want to be seen as being sexy for and help bring those qualities out.
- Reward people abundantly when they take a risk with you. Say things such as, "I like what you did there." or "That was so freaking cool."
- Talk about the things other people find interesting.
- Find a way to empower other people in situations where they may feel less than powerful.
A woman asks little of love: Only that she be able to feel like a heroine. ~Mignon McLaughlin
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