When I was in college and trying to find my worldview, I spent a good deal of time thinking about beauty. Between half-baked study of Plato & Nicomachean ethics, I began to form a sense that Beauty was akin to godliness.
I posted photos of perfect women neatly cut from pricey fashion magazines on my wall. Careful to note, of course, that despite what one of my friend's girlfriends described as a "a lot of nipples" this was no pin-up wall. These were pre-lad-magazine days so the line between wank-magazine and otherwise was still broad and easy to draw.
The smoky logic that followed from my enjoying these women who checkered my wall was that the closer I could be to their beauty, if only via observation, contemplation, and eventual familiarity, the closer I would be to God.
God made things beautiful because he could. And his most perfect work were angels; these angels were paid thousands of dollars an hour to be photographed in New York and elsewhere in order that they might look down on me and I might know them.
It follows then, that if you could find your real person in the company of models, via legitimate invitation or not, then you had in fact negotiated your way to heaven pre-maturely.
A quick ten years later and miles from the studios of Tribeca, I found myself at the Toronto Four Seasons for brunch with my wife in very advanced stages of her third pregnancy. Her parents were in town and insisted on our enjoying a "date" prior to the arrival of the deciding vote.
She couldn't muster the energy for a nighttime date so we took advantage of the offer and packed her appetite into the car for what is seriously the best brunch in the city.
It is usually quite a relaxing scene there - European couples gearing up for some Yorkville shopping, families walked over from nearby Rosedale, pods of New York types recovering from a big night, the occasional grey-haired wallet with his mistress enjoying some post-tryst sustenance; it makes for compelling people watching and the coffee is great.
After our first pass at the shellfish tower, we returned to the pancake station and we found ourselves surrounded in Models. They were everywhere. Tall, shockingly well-groomed (probably best saved for another post, but I have always found something deeply disingenuous about overly-groomed people, especially men; what are they hiding?).
You could smell the fashion.
The women were beautiful. And young. The men wore large watches and expensive boots and sported complicated facial hair. Truthfully, our conversation fell off. Their blow dried hair fell into perfect curves. They looked like money had made them.
We returned to our table with plates stacked high with breakfast items we had not intended to take.
"What was that all about?" she asked.
I had no idea.
But here's the thing. We broke into laughter. We couldn't stop. Instead of being impressed with this spread of beauty, we were appalled. I won't go into why, it would seem bitter or petty.
The point is one of perspective. Contrary to its nature, my Platonic form of beauty has shifted.
The sexpots at the omelet bar held no appeal for us relative to the cheerful little specimens waiting for us back home. Someone at brunch had missed the point of life and it wasn't us, we felt.
I had long since let the girls of my dorm wall go, my worldview having found new moorings many times over. But this was the first time these photos had found me again, and I was most surprised by how little they meant - how unbeautiful.