There is an old song, "This is all I ask," one version of which I recall a line as rendered: "Beautiful lady walk a little closer when you pass my way." The song, as this old man thinks of it, is a ballad sung from the perspective of an old man.
I thought of that song the other day waiting in a doctor's office and watching a "beautiful lady" quietly deal with a man she'd apparently known from working in a sheltered home of some kind. She was perhaps, to be polite, in her late forties; and there was nothing remarkable about the woman's appearance. Yet she was one of those people you might have noticed in a crowd even if the man hadn't drawn attention to her.
In the time the man was talking we learned a lot about him, he talked freely about himself and did so quite loudly. I'm not sure of the politically correct term, so I shall say he was "developmentally disadvantaged." In the process any observer who cared to could learn something about her. What was most valuable about the conversation was not what he said, but how patiently and politely she listened to him ramble on. Everyone in the vicinity could tell she felt a certain sense of relief when his name was called.
As the man walked away the lady said, "I don't know how he remembered me." I leaned over and told her the obvious truth she'd overlooked: He had remembered her because she is a very beautiful person.
It seems to this old man that there are certain people who just stand out. Somehow such folk project a sense of knowing who they are and being content with that person. I am not sure whether this is an attribute or an accomplishment, but you do see it in people if you're observant. Our daughter Susan is someone like that, as is my (self-appointed) "god-child" Robin Fine Bradley. Another one I wouldn't want to fail to mention is Lynn Llewellyn, General Manager of The Brazil Times. I've never made a secret of being an admirer of Lynn for all of the 12 years I've known her (did one of us get 12 years older, Lynn?).
To be fair and balanced, this quality I'm talking about is certainly not confined to women. I've seen it in men many times. The reason it stands out so much in my mind when I see it in a woman is simply because I am getting to be an old man who has seen the world change considerably. It seems to me the generation that has come of age during my lifetime simply has no comprehension of any other world than one in which someone can be a "beautiful person" without regard to gender. And, that's a good thing. But, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, "Beautiful lady walk a little closer when you pass my way."
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.