Friday, November 28, 2008

Charmed, I'm sure

Lately I’ve been thinking about it. What makes someone charming. Well, it’s the family season, and my family was strictly drawn down the lines of charming and un. My dad clued me in. He told me, he and I were from the uncharming side, whereas my mother and brother had the gift. Which was a total surprise to me, as I was rather lovely at the time, and assumed all the attention was due to my charm.

Father knows best. It’s funny, because I do believe we tend to mate with opposites, and my husbands and boyfriends were charming – so charming, no one, not even my hard-line dad, spotted or cared to see any dark side. Charm may be the greatest gift and curse a person can own, depending on personal strengths and weaknesses.

If you have the gift, almost everyone wants to cuddle up to your campfire of warm flames and toasted marshmallows. But what if you have some personality disorder. Drink too much, drug too much. These same visitors to the campfire will supply your every need, just to sidle up to your warm glow. Your very charm beats the path to your own destruction. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Truman Capote.

So what are the elements of charm. It can be an effortlessness, a seeming comfort in your own skin. But it can also be the opposite. An anti-charm so abrasive, so uncaring of opinion, that that becomes a charm in itself. So elusive – and nothing to do with a straight nose or perfect biceps. Charm remembered is really nothing more than a crooked smile, a touch.

I think charm is a gene. One that will someday be identified and numbered, and even duplicated and sold. But in the meantime, it just was, is, will be. It’s the breath of heaven against your cheek. Some exhale, some inhale.

36 comments:

  1. It's that thing we're told Bill Clinton has, that doesn't come across on TV. What got you thinking of it?

    Maybe some people have it but it only works on certain others, not everyone. "I was immune to his charms." Why does one person fall prey to a charmer with a dark side, when another person barely feels that breath of heaven on the cheek?

    It used to happen to me, but it doesn't now. That tells me I've changed, not that others are no longer charming. I wonder if it could happen again.

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  2. The word "charming" does not have good connotations for me. I think of it as not real, but manipulative. The very word suggests the idea of casting a spell. I know I'm not charming.

    I think some people fall prey while others don't depending on their defense mechanisms, family background, and experience. Some people might see right through a charmer, while others are captivated. I think it depends on whether the other person has already got a handle on the charmer's particular way or not. I know someone who seems to charm a lot of people, but he does nothing for me - I don't think there's much behind it - and others whom I connect with agree. But still others think this person is wonderful.

    (Is this topic "fraeal" or not? I guess charmers ain't "fraelal."

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  3. My father was very charming. He drunk quite a lot too, but for an East European that's normal. His charm was that he was smart and very funny. I remember one time my dad, his wife (not my mother) and I were in a grocery store and he was flirting with all the female employees. He did it an old world scoundrel style, you couldn't be mad at him.

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  4. What can I do with zero? I can't do enahthin with zero. You know what you people are? You people are bastard people. That's what you are.

    I can only be charming on a temporary basis, eventually my real self emerges.

    I like that you wrote about this.

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  5. La Belle Dame Sans Merci

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  6. Well, I'm not charmed. I wrote out a long, thoughtful comment and Blogger ate it.

    I think the word charming gets a bad rap because we always associate it with carnival barker/Eddie Haskell types. Just because someone attracts other people and captivates them doesn't necessarily mean that they are insincere or duplicitous or smarmy, ya know?

    As for Bill Clinton, he's definitely the most charismatic, magnetic person I've ever met. It's like the man just glows or exudes a kind of magnetism or something. He also had a very intense gaze. And whatever aftershave he uses is pretty nice, too. :-) My friend and I both thought it was wild how much he just lit up the room, and how everyone in it basically hung on his every word.

    This is such a great post. And K, I'm certainly charmed by you. You write so incredibly well!

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  7. LA, u actually met Bubba? He must've been your fav pol!

    He's definitely a womanizer alright, or a charmer. Charmers can put quite a spell on some people.

    I
    5

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  8. Incredible personal charisma doesn't necessarily destine you to a life of manipulation -- but it must be so tempting, so easy. And overt rogues, I like them muchly. They put all the cards on the table, face up. They're in the service of fun.

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  9. I'm charm's satellite. I orbit charm, I envy charm, I lick it up. Charm's pheromonal, Heaven's swipe of the cheek? I say it's in the pits.
    it's electrical

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  10. i think charm belongs to us all... certain people just use it as a given and the rest of us, well, we keep it for those special, honest moments... when it realy matters! be aware of those who charm for a living! lovely post... if your father thinks you don't have charm, you sure have character... i know what i would prefer... ;-)sj

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  11. Do you really think Truman Capote had charm? I think he had talent and a "bitchy" know how when it came to playing up to others vanity. Unanswered Prayers.

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  12. Such an interesting take on this -- all of you. And you know PA, I think Capote is a perfect example. Charm, apparently, is what made people forget that he looked like a gnome and talked in a sing-song whine. But the friends kept the good times rolling, and eventually he was just a characture of himself. And that talent -- the pure and true voice of Grass Harp, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Christmas Memory -- gone. All gone.

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  13. mademoiselle gramophoneNovember 30, 2008 at 11:34 AM

    Capote said Kerouac was not a writer just a typist. True, Jack was full of charm, of the manly lumberjack variety.

    Truman vs. Jack: It's an example of the charmed calling the charmer charming charmingly.

    Just pleasedon't squeeze my Charmin.

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  14. Wait a minute. Your dad said you did not possess the charm gene? No offense to your father, but you are infinitely charming, and in a very good way. Charm away. It works for you.

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  15. M. Gramophone: If you think Kerouac was a charmer, you should have met Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty). He could apparently charm the pants off of anyone.

    I amend what I said earlier. Charming can be good or bad, depending on the context and the charmer.

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  16. You know what Mr. Earl, that had always been my impression as well, tho my knowledge of this period is based on some pretty questionable bios. And then maybe we're getting into a whole different realm. I mean, Gatsby wouldn't have been written had it not been for Zelda. So I guess now we're diving into the muse pool. Which still leaves Capote dry, because I don't think he had a muse. Ever hear the Am Lit rumour that he helped write/primarily wrote To Kill A Mockingbird? I've always hoped that wasn't true.

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  17. Capote was a character in To Kill a Mockingbird. You may remember Scout and Jem have a friend in the story, a young boy who's a tad effeminate, too well-dressed, too clean...

    He was a friend of Harper Lee's when she was a little girl, and she included him in her story. But I've never heard anything about his helping to write it.

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  18. Well, you know, we Lit majors needed something to gossip about. Yup, that was him in the story for sure. The strange thing about Harper Lee (and one of the great monikers of all time) is that she wrote one book. One perfect book. And then left to play golf. And if that's truly what happened, it pleases me.

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  19. Mary Kathleen O'LooneyNovember 30, 2008 at 9:38 PM

    Tru said Harper was interested in writing about the KKK. Maybe she scared herself.

    PS. Unstuck thanks to "Dr." Burchard.

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  20. which is an interesting bit, intersting, but still, I believe, he was on the wane, broken somehow. I'd love to see something from his earlier days.

    Folks call me Dill. Well, not that early.

    Maybe, It's better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place; so vague.Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.

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  21. Mary Kathleen O'LooneyNovember 30, 2008 at 10:10 PM

    Dollar bills, tightly rolled and green as May buds. Somber fifty-cent pieces, heavy enough to weight a dead man's eyes. Lovely dimes, the liveliest coin, the one that really jingles. Nickels and quarters, worn smooth as creek pebbles. But mostly a hateful heap of bitter-odored pennies. Last summer others in the house contracted to pay us a penny for every twenty-five flies we killed. Oh, the carnage of August: the flies that flew to heaven!

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  22. Home is where my friend is, and there I never go.

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  23. Capote got fired from The Great Gatsby due to a Frank Coppola coup at Paramount(the next C in the Rolodex)

    Zelda was from Montgomery which isn't that far from Monroeville where Harper and Tru grew up.

    I think Harper was his muse, then Babe, then Radziwill.

    "There are no second acts in American lives," eF. Scott FitzG

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  24. Couldn't disagree more. The first was a friend, the other two just warming on the pieces that remained. Well, whatever, I hear a critter in the attic, and must decide how to handle the situation.

    " If you sweep a house, and tend its fires and fill its stove, and there is love in you all the years you are doing this, then you and that house are married, that house is yours. "

    Well, I guess.

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  25. Oh shit, the raccoon will wait. I just have to say that anyone fired from any cinematic version of GG is to be congratulated. Every version (two?) has been just dreadful.

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  26. There's a very interesting (and long) podcast on Slate regarding the Great Gatsby and its rather mundane plot mixed with magic of so many of the individual sentences.

    And to totally switch gears, when I hear the word "charm" I nowadays think of The Kings of Leon song "Charmer."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHzDSmav0NM

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  27. You know, watching that video I'm not charmed. I think you had to be in his physical presence. I think charm works that way. Unless you were, like, Johnny Carson. Or maybe he had charisma. But that's a different post.

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  28. I heard that was the case, Petrea. But I am going to check out that Slate refer.

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  29. But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose.

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  30. He makes me melt, that man does. And since no on will visit the ailing end of this post, I can use this again, my favorite ending of all time:
    Gatsby believe in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther...and one fine morning---
    So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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  31. Okay, since we don't give a shit it's the end of a blog post here:

    And Lucky Dick can't be one of those clever men; he must be less intact, even faintly destroyed. If life won't do it for him it's not a substitute to get a disease, or a broken heart, or an inferiority complex, though it'd be nice to build out some broken side till it was better than the original structure.

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  32. Wow, that's beautifully said, whatever it means. If you're talking about DC, he was a headcase, right? And fan of electoshock therapy.

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  33. You're quick, you are. Nothing gets by you---a mind like a steel trap. Snap! Cavett and Tender Is The Night memed on das bloog.

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  34. After googlefication one comes back with Clive James for Slate:

    "He would always have been a melancholic if he had given himself time, and perhaps he finally had time. A man looking for oblivion should be allowed to have it. Like Dick Diver at the end of Tender Is the Night, Dick Cavett sank back into America. "

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  35. I'll take undue credit when undue credit is offered. You led me there. But that Slate story was really very sad. the two Dick comparison seems a stretch, but interesting.

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