Mark Scott

"the best damned poet in the business"

Charm

Our nakedly autobiographical memoir columnist fires off emails when he isn’t writing autofiction. We try to clean his tool at source. His ouster is coming. Let us wet his coordinates before Odious writes his history and the gray areas stand out. “Charm” is one of those. Latin in all its vitals and Greek as a talking point, charm is now a global concern. It’s hard to like people you can’t relate to. How can loving them, and definitely being patient with them, be made easier? Jesus could not have liked everyone he loved. He had to keep breaking down things for them. They got on his nerves. How could they be so stupid? He couldn’t always be charming. Or could he? I sometimes wonder. Going off on his own and trying to be himself, and then coming back, ready to talk, made him attractive. I think they respected him for containing the crisis, and they cut him a break. He had a mission. Getting to the point where he liked all of them may not have been possible in the time they had remaining, but they deserved love, even if they didn’t get it, like lesbian Muslim immigrants who vote Republican. Altering on the fly activities they weren’t into didn’t require any radical effort, and they were pleasantly surprised. That’s all there is to charm.

Most people aren’t interesting for what they say, but almost everyone is interesting for how they say, as ones of a kind are interesting. “All the fun’s in how you say a thing,” Frost said, in character, but everyone discounted that. Yes, if you think about it. Almost nobody does think about it. If you do think about it, it’s the way other people say things that makes you think you can say something in a different way, in a fun way.

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