“It’s not sexy, it’s sophisticated.” So says the Beat girl Ruby of one of her mother’s paintings in The Beat on Ruby’s Street.
For a very long time, if not for as long as I can remember, I wanted to be sophisticated. When I was growing up I thought that meant wearing black a lot, having a cool job and drinking wine every night.
I also thought it meant impeccable taste in music, (somehow including the song The Lady is a Tramp) -- though the most sophisticated music of all to my mind was always jazz. (Classical music is lovely and can be very cool, but only because it’s unfashionable.)
I don’t exactly know what sophisticated is these days, but I know I don’t make the cut for it, much as I’d like to. I am just not as sharply defined as you need to be, I think, to achieve sophisticated status.
I don’t drink wine every day. I’m not emaciated, like the picture here, which was a costume sketch for a show I was in some years ago). I wear black but other colors too. My footwear is usually abominable, like the Abominable Snowman or Belle’s boat sized boots in the latest opening-song version of Beauty and the Beast.
Not that I’ve seen the latest version.
I’m not sure sophisticated people would love horror movies the way I do, either. They might like cabarets, but it would have to be certain cabarets, dedicated to certain kinds of moments on certain kinds of nights.
I suppose being sophisticated is a little like being cool. (Dressing like the woman in the Madam X painting by John Singer Sargent wouldn't hurt, either). You know because of the way people look at you or follow your lead, but I think it’s really about the things you care about, and that can’t be taught.
More importantly, is it something to aspire to--and want your kids to be? The "right" answer is probably no, but I can't always want the right answer.
So, however incorrect it may be I continue to believe that some day, some way, I really can improve my sophistication score.
Might be in another lifetime, but… I’ll still be trying.