In one of the James Bond novels the narrator offers a brief rumination about pain. He says, to paraphrase, that the human body forgets the physical sensations of pain very quickly: you can remember that you were in pain, and that it was very painful, but you cannot remember (which means, I suppose, recreate) the sensations of pain, or the sensation of their actual painfulness, for very long. I think the same is true of sex. I'd say you get about two days, but let's call it a week just be certain. That's how long you can recreate the actual sensations of sex, the physical experience of its pleasure. After that, you can remember that you had sex, and that you liked it very much indeed, but you've got no sensation to tide you over. And that, I think, is why when people long for sex, or fear they'll never have it again, they do so with such yearning and despair: because you've got no sensation memory to buoy you up.
And now we move naturally from sex to...David Tennant (of course we do). And, since I love
pictures of David Tennant, let's have a picture to go with the topic, shall we? I wanted to pick one in which he just looks nice, because tonight's Topic with Relation to David Tennant is, in fact, niceness.
So, not very long ago (as you will know if you read some of these blog entries) I was involved with a man. And then I wasn't. Well, that's a story that's old in the world, and as tedious to those involved as to those watching or reading it, so let's skip the whys and wherefores and get to the point. Which is, after it was all over and people were trying to be helpful, one thing they did to be helpful - and, indeed, one thing I did myself - was to see if there was something about this person that was, perhaps, applicable to other people, so that when I was done mourning and ready to go on, I would be able to get some larger meaning or use by looking for that attribute in other people. So a number of people asked me why I'd liked the person, or what had attracted me to him. And my answer was always, "...He was nice." Which is true. Of course what first drew my eye was how he looked, and what first made me make contact with him was that he said something really smart to me, but the reason why I stuck to him was because...he was nice.
Nice doesn't mean kind, or thoughtful, or remembering your birthday or holding doors open (although all those things are good, and devoutly to be wished in a boyfriend). And nice doesn't mean anything weak or derogatory, although it is usually a weak word, and often used in a derogatory sense. I think the best definition of it that I could offer is that nice means accepting people as they are, and genuinely engaging with them as they are. The thing that was so great about this person was that he never flinched. I told him some stuff that I'd never told other people - not terrible stuff, in fact quite mild stuff by most people's measurement, I suppose, but stuff that I was shy of revealing, or that I felt put my self on the line in some way - and not only did he never snicker, or hold it against me, but he never acted as if it were anything out of the ordinary way of information. He didn't denigrate any of my worries or weirdnesses; he just treated them as if they were normal: treated them as not very important, in a good way. And he did nice things without making a song and dance about it. He brought me presents for no reason, but he didn't seem to expect anything for them; it was as if he just did it for the pleasure of it. The sense I got was that he wasn't trying to be that person; he just was that person: nice.
Now, I don't know, but whenever I see David Tennant interacting with the public as himself, he seems that way, too. It's as if it's no big deal to him to do what makes other people happy, and as if quite a lot of things that other people might find odd or worth being at least a little bit obnoxious about are things that he's willing to throw himself into - no skin off his nose, as my dad would say (see this clip from the Graham Norton show, where the situation actually starts at 8:05 of this clip). It could all be faked, or it could be true but he's still a terrible person in private, but his public persona suggests simply that....he is nice.
I think nice is under-rated. Or maybe it's just under-rated with reference to me. Everybody thinks people want to be thought incredible, or put on a pedestal, or...or...what? Lauded. And I think people do want that, in a way. I mean, everyone wants to think that the person they're with thinks they're special. But I know that I, at least, want most of all just to be accepted. Or maybe it would be better to say, "liked," because that allows for the presents as well as the matter-of-fact reaction to odd stuff. Bringing someone a present in a matter-of-course way, or letting them ruffle your hair, as David Tennant does here (at 2:50 - incidentally, I find it interesting that he seems to like wearing all three pieces of three-piece suits), suggests that you have in some way absorbed them into the part of your life where you don't think, aren't fussed about them, where you relate to them rather than are at one remove from them. It's hard to explain, or maybe you already see what I mean. I think it's that I think, really, that that quieter connection is much more real, and much more an expression of how the person values you and other people, than any kind of frenzy of love. David Tennant's saying, "Sure, go on, ruffle my hair" suggests that he doesn't view his fans as weird - that he thinks of them as people. ARGH. I said it was hard to explain. But I think most people really don't do this: they don't know how to let other people in, or they're afraid to do so. So "nice" equals "connective" for me.
So I guess the lesson here is that I value quiet acceptance over big adoration. God, I really am British.
You know, I sometimes think that I'm going to do everything I can to get famous in a sensible way, JUST so I can hang out with David Tennant once.