You’re beautiful as you feel

8 02 2009
Photo by Steve Granitz/

Photo by Steve Granitz/

I’d watch Gabriel Byrne floss his teeth. I might even pay.

No, I’m not a dental fetish. But, oh, I do like Gabriel Byrne.

He’s not conventionally attractive, i.e., he’s not pretty. And his body, ehhh, tall and thin, and I doubt there’s a six pack beneath that open-necked shirt. But mention his name to women who are attracted to men (and even some who aren’t), and we’ll swoon. Ohhh, we’ll say, we do like Gabriel Byrne.

What is it about him? The dark eyes? The Irish accent? The smile that only seems to accent the sadness in those dark eyes? Do we confuse him with the characters he plays, soulful rogues, doomed both by and in spite of their intelligence?

Or is it something about the mash-up of physical oddity and charm which makes him beautiful? Something which hints at a deeper beauty than mere surface prettiness would allow?

I generally don’t like pretty men. I was never much for Tom Cruise (even before), and while I wouldn’t kick Brad Pitt out of bed, he’s never done much for me. And I fixated on Harrison Ford’s chin scar as something which set him apart, and a crooked smile on anyone always works on me.

No, I like guys whose surfaces are not quite right. I watched The Thomas Crown Affair last week (before I unplugged my t.v. set again), and found Dennis Leary much more appealing than Pierce Brosnan (although Brosnan, as he ages, is getting interesting). And then I thought of Steve McQueen—incredibly attractive, but handsome? I guess, but it’s really his eyes and intensity which draw.

Or voice. Alan Rickman was the only person worth watching in a Robin Hood remake a decade or so ago, and god, what perfect casting for Snape in the Harry Potter movies. We’re meant to be repulsed, but. . . it’s Alan Rickman! Or Yaphet Kotto, and his baritone gravel. I’d pay to listen to him read Bush’s speeches.

Okay, so there’s George Clooney, and it’s not just his crooked smile. Gimme a break: it’s Clooney. (And Clive Owen, but gimme a break: it’s Clive Owen.)

Now, women, I don’t really have any sense ahead of time of who I find attractive. Sure, Angelina Jolie, but ecccchhht, enough of Angelina. (Nothing against her—just, Enough.) Perhaps I am too newly attracted to women to have developed that sense. Maybe I’m just less fascinated with my kind, that the consideration of the qualities of men is predicated on the fact that they’re. . . men, i.e., not like me.

Not that any of this matters: adoration from afar. But, oh, what I wouldn’t give to meet Gabriel Byrne up close.