Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Curious Good Looks

The words we use to describe each other can impart so much visual imagery, so much detail, intended or unintended. Consider the following bit of Seinfeldian dialog:

Jerry: She had man hands.

Elaine: Man hands?

Jerry: The hands of a man. It's like a creature out of Greek mytholoogy, I mean, she was like part woman, part horrible beast.

Now, doesn't that paint a picture? Can't you just see that woman wrapping her hands around the tail end of a lobster and ripping it off with ease? Some folks have a real knack for painting a picture. The words they use can encapsulate someone so perfectly, so completely. A word or two can sometimes fill our head with such a vision, it's almost as if you were staring at a photograph.

I remember back in college that I was fumbling to describe one of our staff workers to a colleague. I came up with a description that I thought was accurate and complete. I uttered words to the effect of "He had two eyes, and a mouth right beneath his nose." I got a blank stare. Then my colleague kind of shook his head at me in disbelief. I then saw a light go on in his eyes and he said, "Oh, you mean the man with the angular features." I was blown away. What a choice of words. I would have never have come up with this on my own, but it was the perfect word to describe who I was talking about. Around this same time, I was reading an article about the lead singer of the band Duran Duran (boy they were uber-cool back in the day). The journalist described the lead singer Simon LeBon as having "curious good looks". What a turn of phrase. I am not even really sure what they were implying or intending, but this phrase kind of stuck with me. Somehow it seemed to fit. But I must give one word of caution. I have known folks who attempt to describe a woman as "handsome". In my mind this describes a she-beast. A woman can be beautiful, hot, pretty, voluptuous, gorgeous, seductive, ..., but handsome is a word that describes a young Sean Connery, Brad Pitt, or Weird Al Yankovitch.