Most people think about age and experience in terms of years, but it’s really only moments that define us. We stay mostly the same and then grow up suddenly, at the turning points.
His life being pretty sweet just as it was, Noah Gardner had devoted a great deal of effort in his first twenty-something years to avoiding such defining moments at all costs.
Not that his time had gone entirely wasted. Far from it. For one thing, he’d spent a full decade building what most guys would call an outstanding record of success with the ladies. Good-looking, great job, fine education, puckishly amusing and even clever when he put his mind to it, reasonably fit and trim for an office jockey, Noah had all the bona fide credentials for a killer eHarmony profile. Since freshman year at NYU he’d rarely spent a weekend night alone; all he’d had to do was keep the bar for an evening’s companionship set at only medium-high.
As he’d rounded the corner of age twenty-seven and stared the dreaded number thirty right in the face, Noah had begun to realize something about that medium-high bar: it takes two to tango. While he’d been aiming low with his standards in the game of love, the women he’d been meeting might all have been doing exactly the same thing. Now, on his twenty-eighth birthday, he still wasn’t sure what he wanted in a woman but he knew what he didn’t want: arm candy. He was sick of it. Maybe, just maybe, it was time to consider thinking about getting serious.
It was in the midst of these deep ruminations on life and love that the woman of his dreams first caught his eye.
There was nothing remotely romantic about the surroundings or the situation. She was standing on tiptoe, reaching up high to pin a red, white, and blue flier onto a patch of open cork on the company bulletin board. And he was watching, frozen in time between the second and third digits of his afternoon selection at the snack machine.
Top psychologists tell us in Maxim magazine that the all-important first impression is set in stone within about ten seconds. That might not sound like much, but when you count it off it’s a long damn time for a guy to stare uninvited at a female coworker. By the four-second mark Noah had made three observations.
First, she was hot, but it was an aloof and effortless hotness that almost double-dared you to bring it up. Second, she wasn’t permanent staff, probably just working as a seasonal temp in the mailroom or another high-turnover department. And third, even in that lowly position, she wasn’t going to survive very long at Doyle & Merchant.
They say you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. That’s especially true in the public relations business, considering that that’s where appearance is reality. Apparently the job this girl wanted was head greeter at the Grateful Dead Cultural Preservation Society. But that wasn’t quite right; she didn’t strike him as a wannabe hipster or a retro-sixties flower child. It was more than the clothes, it was the whole picture, the way she carried herself, like a genuine free spirit. An appealing vibe, to be sure, but there was really no place for that sort of thing—neither the outfit nor the attitude—in the buttoned-up world of top-shelf New York City PR.
At about five seconds into his first impression, something else about her struck him, and he completely lost track of time.
What struck him was a word, or, more precisely, the meaning of a word: line. More powerful than any other element of design, a line is the living soul of a piece of art. It’s the reason a simple logo can be worth tens of millions of dollars to a corporation. It’s the thing that makes you believe that a certain car, or a pair of sunglasses, or the cut of a jacket can make you into the person you want to be.
The definition he’d received from an artist friend was rendered not in words but in a picture. Just seven light strokes of a felt-tip marker on a blank white page and before his eyes had appeared the purest essence of a woman. There was nothing lewd about it, but it was the sexiest drawing Noah had ever seen in his life.
And that is what struck him. There it was at the bulletin board, that same exquisite line, from the toes of her sandals all the long, lovely way up to her fingertips. Unlikely as it must seem, he knew right then that he was in love.
© 2009 Glenn Beck