I watched a Broadway play tonight: History Boys, the 2006 Tony Award winner for Best Play. It was set in a college prep school in England.
Dekan, the boy in the very middle of the picture, was referred to several times as the most attractive boy. His two male history teachers wanted to fondle him (and more). His gay classmate pined for him throughout the show.
Sometimes I watch shows where one character is made out to be super-hyper-attractive. But they're not, and I internally question "That person?"
Not so this time. I felt the full gale of attraction. There were moments when I wanted to leap over the thirteen rows of seats in front of me, using the seat backs to spring onto the stage and embrace him.
But I didn't.
Because I figured he wouldn't like that.
It got me thinking as to what makes people attractive. Dekan was physically good-looking, the best of the bunch, but it was more than that.
He was very confident. For example, making an overture on his history teacher. "I was thinking now that the term is over, you and I could go get a drink." Teacher: "No." Dekan: "Well, drink is really a euphemism. I meant that ... maybe you could [bleep] me off."
But sometimes people are really good-looking and confident, and yet they just get on your nerves. Like Paris Hilton to many people. Or a guy I met last month in a San Francisco party.
Maybe those people aren't truly confident. Or maybe there are some detractors that overpower the attractiveness of the confidence.
I was standing in the subway station while thinking these thoughts. Suddenly I heard my name called, and after whipping my head around two or three times, I saw Andrew, a fellow Googler. He revealed he'd gone to the same play, and I posed this question to him.
He made the obligatory disclaimers about not being able to tell if a guy is attractive (note to all men: It is OKAY to admit another guy is attractive! You will not become labelled as gay. Get over it already!)
"It's the confidence," Andrew said.
Okay. So what makes some people confident, and not others? I recalled to a time four years ago when I was managing a particularly nervous high school intern at Microsoft. My manager Jason gave me this advice for the intern, "Confidence can't be granted. It comes from setting challenges and then surmounting them."
That's not entirely accurate though. Truly confident people are confident at all times, even in areas they have no experience in. I recall going to an upscale restaurant with my Microsoft team once. Rob, the test lead, was obviously unaccustomed to the setting, but he ate the carpaccio and raw tuna and bantered with us with the greatest of comfort.
Maybe confidence is when no one can really make you feel bad about yourself. No words will bring you down. You could receive a thousand insults, and you wouldn't bat an eye. You could get fired, and you'd just calmly send out your resume.
What do you think?