Monday, July 01, 2002

What is it about Christopher Walken that makes him so cool?

The latest Christopher coolness is captured in the FatBoySlim video, "Weapon of Choice," where he dances through a hotel to the kick ass song. I haven't been able to quit watching and smile through the whole thing each time. The guy is just a kick in the pants.

He reminds me of that stranger who you might end up dancing with at a nightclub and hanging with all night until the place kicks you out. A little dangerous, a little weird, and wholly intriguing. Sometimes I wish that as a woman I could capture that kind of coolness, but most women just look like they are posing when they try. It comes off forced or unnatural, and no woman that I can think of could pull off what Christopher Walken did in that video and have the same effect. He's just effortless in his coolness and appeal.

I guess that's what's so wonderful about being a woman. I get to enjoy men who are completely at ease with themselves as men, so much that they can dance up a storm in a hotel lobby, keep a deadpan face throughout the entire time, and look damn cool when doing it. There are so many men in Los Angeles who are not at ease with themselves as men, nor women who are at ease with being women. And both try way too hard to be cool, to no avail because they aren't being themselves, and are not in touch with their inner Christopher Walkens. Because of the mixed signals we've gotten over the past couple of decades, people don't know how to be either because society has tried and succeeded in many ways to convince us that we are one homogenous chromosome. This has blurred the gender roles, with women thinking that they have to act and dress like men to compete in the workplace or for equality, and men get confused and don't know how to act around women dressed in harsh clothes with harsh mouths and unapproachable attitudes. Perhaps it's just a Los Angeles phenomenon, but so many women around look so completely untouchable, and dare I say, not soft. I don't mean soft in a fleshy way, at least not entirely. Soft is touchable and comforting, and these over-tanned, over-exercised, and over the top women just don't cut the feminine mustard. Or shall I say, the Grey Poupon.

A couple of years ago at a company Christmas party, I bought the dress of all dresses. I looked like I'd just stepped off the Titanic, with elbow length gloves, a gorgeous sheer hand-beaded shawl that tied in the back, a red corset and a floor length gold skirt. It was just fabulous. This picture doesn't do it justice, mainly because the whole dress isn't visible and you only get a hint of how dapper Shannon looked.

Me and Shannon at my company Christmas party. We didn't even plan the color coordination, but there it was.

After the Christmas party wound down, Shannon and I trotted off to the Sky Bar, notorious for their impossible to get in door policy. We didn't think we had a chance in hell of getting in, but weren't ready to pack it in for the night, especially with us both being dressed up. He drove into the driveway, and I stepped out of the car to see if we could get in. I walked up to the two doormen who were dressed head to toe in black, and when they saw me, the scowls on both their faces melted into smiles.

"What a beautiful dress," one of them said and unhinged the velvet rope.
I thanked him and asked if it was okay if Shannon and I didn't have a reservation.
"Of course," the other one said, and I waved the okay at Shannon who waved back and parked the car.
As I waited for him, other clientele who were allowed beyond the coveted rope turned to me and said, "You look beautiful," and other nice compliments. Some said I looked like a princess, gorgeous, and were not afraid to meet my eyes and act like gentlemen. These were men who would normally look just above your forehead, avoiding your eyes at all costs for fear of losing the competition. The competition being, who catches who looking first. In this dress, a picture of feminism and grace, they were not afraid to be men. Because, even though I was dressed in an evening gown, I was touchable. The women they were with were dressed in black, and smiled nervously as their dates lavished on the compliments. I was gracious, and thanked every one of them.

Shannon and I walked into the club and waded through the crowd clad in black. There were women who looked like supermodels, but the attention was focused on me and Shannon. All night long, the pretentious and "above it all" crowd at the Sky Bar was complimenting my dress, allowing me to pass instead of blocking my way, and other door men at the club greeted me and opened the door for me, telling me how beautiful I looked. Keep in mind, that this is at Sky Bar where the people are supposed to be "too cool for you," and never do bouncers open the door for a customer who isn't famous or A-list. I mean, the horror.

It just showed me that there are men who are dying to be men and welcomed the reprieve from snotty, jaded, scantily clad, and unoriginal women who don't appreciate their chivalrous gestures when they are offered. Sure, all men aren't begging to be gentlemen. Some are just fine with the game and deserve what they get. But, my appearance that night brought out the gentlemen in so many men in a place where you would least expect to find them.

I've never thought of it this way until now, but I think that night I was my own version of Christopher Walken. Like he was in that video, I was at ease and comfortable with just being who I was, and that put everyone else around me at ease as well.