Not long ago, a male friend referred to me as ‘hot.’ I eyeballed him suspiciously, waiting for the punch line. When it didn’t come, I chuckled, sputtered, and then snorted (which, I’m certain, is not ‘hot’). In case you haven’t sorted it out, ‘hot’ is not a word I have ever attached to myself. Ever. He assured me that I’m selling myself short (as I am wont to do) but I still scoffed (and suggested he have his eyes checked).
But it got me to thinking. (Smell the smoke?)
Obviously, ‘hot’ is like beauty, in that it’s in the eye of the beholder. I know this, though I do think there must be some universal ‘hot’ standards, just as there are universal beauty standards. Right? I mean, I'm betting there are few people on the planet who would look at Halle Berry and say, “Ew. She’s ugly.” Hello. She’s Halle Berry. She’s gorgeous. Now, I can see some people saying, “Well, yeah, I think she’s pretty, but she’s not that fabulous.” I think those people would be nuts, but I’ll give a little… eye… beholder… all that…
And I know lots of women who think Brad Pitt is drop-dead-gorgeous. Me? Meh. Same with Tom Cruise. In fact, not only is he not gorgeous, he’s downright creepy. And I have a guy friend who thinks Drew Barrymore is beautiful. Really? I don’t see it.
Eye… beholder… all that…
But that's beauty. What about ‘hot’? Are there universal standards? I really wasn’t sure. So I asked my Facebook friends (and I should note here that I do realize asking my FB peeps does not a Universal Standards study make, but I got some interesting answers nonetheless).
I found out there are several levels of ‘hot’ (which I think I pretty much already knew but it was made very clear by the replies I got).
The first level is the initial ‘Wow!’ That’s when you see a photo of someone or pass them on the street or see them in a bar and think, “Damn! Dude is HOT!” For me, it’s this guy...
I can’t even remember his name. But really? Who cares? Dude is HOT! This level of ‘hot’ is superficial. Completely superficial. The person is not even real at this level. In fact, you almost don’t even want him to open his mouth because you know the whole effect could be ruined (like the first time I saw Jean Claude Van Damme in an interview. Hot… then so not).
The first level is purely physical. Purely sexual. It’s about ‘Oh yeah, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers.’ It’s about abs and butts and boobs and whatever other physical attribute floats your boat. It’s the first date with the gorgeous guy you have nothing in common with but want to lick up one side and down the other anyway. It’s, as a friend said, the younger, well-endowed woman gyrating in front of him in a club. It’s lusty. It’s good. But it’s not real. It has no substance. It's more about imagination than the ability to actually touch.
The second level is still superficial, but slightly less so. The person is real but you still don’t really know him. For me, it’s Gerard Butler.
Oh my. Gerard is hot. He’s hot on a physical level, certainly, but I also like the person I believe him to be (a belief garnered from watching him in television interviews, natch…you didn’t think I’d actually met him, did you?). He seems like a great guy… funny, smart, charming, self-deprecating. He might not be any of those things but he comes across that way, so he remains hot (and will until he’s arrested or photographed kicking a puppy, when he will be dumped into the Tom Cruise ‘not hot’ category).
This level of 'hot' is the beautiful girl who works in your building and smiles at you and makes small talk on the elevator. It’s the gorgeous, friendly Alex O’Loughlin look-alike who waits on you at the coffee shop and gives you goosebumps when he touches your hand as he gives you your change. It’s lusty, too, but it has to do with more than just the physical. It’s still superficial and not really real, but it’s a little more real than the guy in the photo whose name I can’t remember because there is another component -- the personality -- involved. Get it?
The next level of 'hot' is real because it’s about real people. It’s the level I was hoping to hear about from my peeps. It’s the level that moves past the superficial (though it can certainly contain superficial elements) to the heart of what really turns us on. It’s where I think my friend was looking when he labeled me ‘hot.’
Now, I should note here that a few of my friends disagree with labeling this level of ‘hot,’ well, ‘hot.’ They said ‘hot’ should be reserved only for the superficial, first glance, walk-into-a-pole, oh-my-god-I-would-do-her-in-a-second reaction (note I said "her," as I believe all the people who suggested the third level of ‘hot’ was not ‘hot’ were guys). Anyway, they said this level is about attraction and getting-to-know someone, etc.
I get that. And I don’t necessarily disagree…
But I asked what people found ‘hot’ and more people (men and women equally) responded with things that fall into this category than the superficial ones. I’m sure that has to do with the fact that most of my FB friends are around my age and by this age we are focused on the whole package and not just the superficial. I surely hope so, anyway, or I’m screwed on the dating front!
So, I determined that this level of ‘hot’ is about the real person… the internal as well as the external (which included dimples and strong jaw lines, sparkly eyes and real smiles)… it’s about having a sense of humor and being open-minded and intelligent. It’s about the level of caring and kindness the person expresses. It has a lot to do with confidence and attitude, feeling sexy and being comfortable in one’s own skin. It’s about the look or the smile, the touch or the suggestive comment from someone you genuinely like (and might love) that makes your stomach do those floopy things. It’s about being a good parent and having respect for one’s partner and expressing love in generous ways. It’s listening and providing a shoulder to cry on and going out at midnight for NyQuil when the flu hits (now, that is hot!). It’s not, I’m happy to say, about 6-pack abs and perfect thighs. Whew!
And? I like it. And I agree. It’s good. It’s real. It’s ‘hot.’
Or, as my nearly 70-year-old Aunt Jean says, it might just be about the ass.
Who am I to argue?