Why I Call Women Gorgeous
Zachary M.C. Harris
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Several weeks ago I attended the VinItaly US/Slow Wine show up in New York, and as usual I made new connections and renewed old ones. Near the end of the tastings, or really when I was almost finished the full rotation of all of the producers and what not in the room I happened across one winemaker who wanted me to try his wines. Now, after being sufficiently “in the spirit” after having a number of great wines from Italy, I relented to try his Refosco. Now, my Italian is almost non-existent and he only speaks Italian, but we had an Irishman who worked for him who could translate. For us “men” of the world, which is why I put it in quotes, we know of three languages which are wine, women and song. It doesn’t matter what verbal language we speak, we all can come to an accord over this. Well, as I had his wine and we were surveying the scenery, I made the omission/statement that once a man stops calling women gorgeous then he has started to die. He vehemently agreed and of course I now have to visit his winery and at least stay a night.
I actually have a lot of happenings like that, with the funniest thing of one wine producer at Winebow’s annual fall tasting remembering me from the prior year’s event being surrounded by four beautiful women and them following me and tasting along with me. What’s funny about it is that I came alone to the event! But that’s me; I always appreciate the beauty of women, whether it is physical or something on a deeper level. Actually, just having physical beauty does nothing for me at all, because there are a lot of physically beautiful women out there, and sometimes even that is just a matter of the great application of makeup, use of slimming garments and whatever hair accoutrements are necessary.
But I think that all women are gorgeous and me telling them that shouldn’t diminish how some women take it (yes, I had an ex who had an issue with me referring to all women as gorgeous, but honestly she had a lot of issues anyway so she doesn’t count at all).
As a man, I can tell you that we as man see women as gorgeous before we even know the word in our vocabularies. The first woman who is gorgeous to us is our mother. She is the first face that we bond with and usually the first nurturing person in our lives. She feeds us, protects us, comforts us, and tends to us. She is the person who cared for us when we couldn’t care for ourselves, and while mothers raise their daughters, they do also baby their sons.
Now, building upon that we have our grandmothers, sisters, aunts and cousins, and depending upon your family dynamic this can become very interesting.
In my case, I learned to walk chasing an older woman’s legs as my mother tells it. Truth is she was only a couple of years older than me, but hey, I have always been advanced for my age. To this day, I still remember that I had a crush on a teacher at my pre-school named Ms. Holiday. Okay, the reality is that I probably get it from my father; my mother kept an old pic of him as a young man in a tuxedo which I found not too long ago, and when a friend looked at it, she said “now you know where you get it from.”
In the case of my mother, as a grown man I can look back at all of the things that my mother sacrificed to bring happiness to me. I remember taking public transportation down to a pet store on Woodland Avenue so that I could get a fish tank. I remember the times that we went back there, or over to World Wide Aquarium in Upper Darby to get fish or to get something for the tank. I remember my mother conceding to the $150 I wanted to spend on a jacket for my senior prom. And we weren’t rich at all, nor even middle class. My mother did the most gorgeous things for me, and even thinking about them sometimes brings a tear to my eyes.
But as for my grandmothers and my sister, well I have an interesting story. My grandmother Pauline – a true firecracker and she went out on 7/4/12 – was the product of the assignation of a white guy from a wealthy family and a beautiful black woman; her mother had to move out of the town. My grandmother wound up marrying a man named Ingram and they had my mother. My grandmother had one hazel eye and one eye that was variable, changing between grey and either green or blue. I only got to see her once a year and I remember that she loved fried butter fish. She used to always send me corduroy pants to the point I had them in every color, including colors I hated. She worked as a domestic for white people and stayed in the Connecticut/Massachusetts area. I actually appreciated her more when she got on my mom’s nerves the same way that my mother aggravated me. While I was not the best grandson, meaning that I should have made a greater effort to know her better and visit more, I can say that I her homegoing ceremony was a good one.
The grandmother thing is tricky because there is my father’s mother who I started to connect with when I was around fourteen years of age, and then there was Mamie Harden, who my grandfather left my grandmother for, either before I was born or before I turned two; I said that I had a weird family dynamic. Mamie played an important part of my life, treating me just as if I was her grandson and she even was there in my corner when other family members weren’t (nothing to do with me, but the split between my grandfather and my grandmother). It was Mamie who made the connections happen between my father’s siblings and me because she’s the one who told them that they needed to spend time with their nephew, even if his own father didn’t.
My sister and I are opposites, being born six years apart and being direct towards one another on the circle of conflict in the Chinese horoscope, but we also have a bond that most people might not easily see nor understand. Yes, we have had our differences, but we have always been in each other’s corners. I still remember her kicking someone’s ass for attacking me because they were upset with her, and I once took on a much bigger [and highly muscular] guy who had hit her. My sister had to drag me with her because my mother worked two and three jobs, and that wound up with me having to attend St. Matthews AME church AND sing in the choir, as well as be around her and her girlfriends as well. Oh yeah, and I had to participate in a wedding play as the groom; I will never ever let her live that down but at the same time that will never be forgotten because when they said you may now kiss the bride, I shook her hand and walked away! And I remember my sister taking me to get my hair cut by Rome over on Peach Street – I grew up in Wynnefield – as well as her inviting me up for the weekend when she had her own apartment in Germantown. I still remember it and it meant so much to me, and it still does.
Now, if I even begin to add all the women who have been platonic friends, the women who have been lovers, the women who have been girlfriends… they have all been gorgeous in one way or another, and in the end, they have all been gorgeous to me. If I can accept, understand and recognize this, then it is easy to understand that damned near almost every woman in this world has the same connection to at least one person and calling them gorgeous would be appropriate.
Women will give you a chance when no one else will. Women will see things in you that your sorry ass can’t see in yourself. Women are believers in things turning around. And all of this is gorgeous. And the minute that men stop recognizing this, that is the point at which they start dying.