Sunday, February 06, 2005

I saw a pretty girl on the airplane tonight

She was tall, blonde, and thin, attractively shaped in the right areas, the type that wears shirts a size too small and stiletto heals with jeans. She followed me down the walkway to the plane and sat in a seat just ahead of me. Ordinarily a pretty girl is either a delight and a motive to praise God, or an occasion of temptation to be avoided, or both. But in this case, she was an impetus for thought.

As the flight progressed, she began to read magazines. Curious, I looked over her shoulder and saw she was reading some magazine called "Life Style", which appeared mostly to concentrate on the aesthetic appeal of various Hollywood stars' body parts. She read this slim folio for two full hours, gazing in rapt attention at pictures of famous people. Somehow, this complete and utter waste of time offended me, and it took me a while to figure out why.

Pretty girls are a gift from God, but the pleasing exterior ought to be a sign of the pleasing interior. Beauty shouldn't be skin deep. It's bad to be bad, whether one is ugly or beautiful, but for the beautiful to be bad takes on the character of sacrilege. Physical beauty is a sign of the great worth of the human person, its goodness made visible. Now, to be fair, I don't know her inner character, but the fact that she could waste so much time on such garbage seemed wasteful, a betrayal of her noble human heritage. Actually, she didn't spend the whole flight reading the magazine, but spent twenty minutes or so fixing her makeup.

When I say wasteful, I don't mean that the problem was that she was wasting time. Rather, the problem was that she was wasting time in a poor, desiccated way. The best things that God has given us are wastes of time, non-productive activities, such as the impractical acts of contemplation or liturgy. She could have spent her time sleeping, or doodling, or even ordering hard liquor from the flight attendant, and it wouldn't have bothered me, since sleeping, doodling, or drinking are all ways of enjoying the riches of the earth. Poring over a mass-media fluffzine was a betrayal of her humanity. It isn't right for a human being, especially one who is such a fine representative of the beauty of the female form, to engage in such vapid activity.

Perhaps I am being unfair. I never spoke with her, and maybe she is a wonderful girl. Actually, I am sure she is a wonderful girl, which is why her choice of entertainment seemed so unbecoming. It was like seeing the Queen of England spit on the sidewalk, or hearing Mozart play Louie-Louie. She should seek higher things, even when she is just killing time. As we all should.

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