the most gorgeous man in the world

When I was twelve, I was in this program that paired kids with elderly people who wanted company. Every week, I visited a woman I’ll call Mary in her overstuffed one-bedroom in a dimly lit facility circled by a sad narrow sidewalk. The whole place smelled like loneliness and mildew and I was depressed by it.

But Mary was upbeat and earnest and she always made me a grilled cheese on her George Foreman grill. We talked a lot about the virtues of that clever grill. The grilled cheese was always on potato bread with American cheese from her similarly yellowing refrigerator. I loved it.

Mary and I had some other things in common, besides appreciation of a good grilled cheese: we both loved Agatha Christie and romantic stories. Hers was the most romantic of all, she told me. Her third husband was the love of her life. He had been in the Navy and he had a sailboat- a real sailboat! And he was gorgeous. The most gorgeous man in the world. Like a movie star except better. Tan and tall and charming and with such a smile! It would make you faint.



“Don’t you dare fall in love with me,” he’d warned her, when they first met, dancing. “I’m on borrowed time.”

They were in their fifties. He told her his doctor had only given him a handful of years to live, a decade if he was very lucky. The problem was his heart.


The problem was her heart. She couldn’t resist. He was the most gorgeous man in the world, she explained to me, in case I’d forgotten.

I hadn’t forgotten. I took a very small bite of my grilled cheese, trying to make it last as long as possible. “But you married him,” I reminded her.

“Oh yes! I did. I married him. And we sailed around the world together on his boat.”


(like this. source)

She gave up her old life to ride the wind with him, and it was bliss, she said. It was the best. It was wild and free and pure romance.

He only lasted five years. And then his heart gave out.

But her heart stayed right there with him.

“He had a smile that would change your life,” she told me, a little misty-eyed. I finished the sandwich regretfully. It had to be done.

She told me the story a few times, and I liked it every time, except that every time I wished that he wouldn’t die at the end and she wouldn’t end up here with me, in this tiny, cluttered apartment with her two yapping dogs with the matted fur and gross breath. I wanted her to be out there, sailing with him, right now.

I had a crush of convenience on a boy I found irritating but acceptable. I had caught him picking his nose in public, but I tried to forgive him so that I could be a better person and learn how to make out. He was not the most gorgeous man in the world. He wasn’t even a man. I brought him over one day, to meet Mary, and she was delighted, but I was kind of embarrassed. I knew he couldn’t compare to her third husband, the dashing sailor. He chewed his sandwich too loudly, in my opinion. He still had braces, so his smile was not exactly going to make anyone faint.

I visited Mary for a couple years, and then she moved across the country to be closer to her grandchildren. I wrote her a letter, but she didn’t respond and sometimes I wondered if I’d somehow forgotten to send it, or if I’d dreamed the whole idea up.

Before she left, she came to my bat mitzvah, and I was glad she got to see me reading from the Torah and wearing my pearly pink gown, which was, I thought, simultaneously mature and like a princess might wear. I faltered, losing my place when I began the last paragraph of the reading and having to search for an agonizingly long moment, but for the most part, I did fine. I felt smart and lovely and full of my own power. Mary didn’t know very many Jews, and she was impressed that I’d said so many words in Hebrew.

During one of our last visits, she showed me a photo of her third husband. I’m not sure why it took her so long to do that. Maybe she’d put them away because it was too painful to see his face, and in packing, she’d rediscovered them. She held the photo out to me, not letting me touch it, because my hands were greasy with grilled cheese.

“There we are,” she said. “And that’s his boat, behind us.”

The photo was bent and it caught the glare of the table lamp so that for the first second, I couldn’t see them at all. 

“Isn’t he gorgeous?” she said. “The most gorgeous man in the world…”

I looked closer, eager to finally see the stunning hero of her stories.

She looked like herself in the photo, but obviously younger, wearing a white blouse. She was much tanner, and she was grinning tremendously. The boat was blurry in the background, kind of a lump of dirty plastic, no sails in sight. Possibly they were rolled up? The man beside her was stocky and happy, also tanned, and he was…

Well, he was a middle-aged man. Incredibly old, to me at thirteen. He had wispy gray hair and a friendly face and he looked somewhere between my dad and my grandfather. 

She was looking at me expectantly and I became suddenly aware of my rudeness.

“Wow!” I said, as enthusiastically as possible, “he looks just like a movie star!”

“But better,” she murmured.

“Yeah, definitely better,” I agreed.

She smiled, satisfied, and tucked the photo carefully away, as though it were made of something so delicate and valuable that it should be under five inches of glass in a museum.

After Mary moved across the country, I never saw or heard from her again.

Sometimes whole years went by without me thinking of her. But yesterday, I remembered. The sputtering fluorescent lights in the halls. The ancient tiny yapping dogs. The grilled cheeses. The most gorgeous man in the world.

“So did you ever find out what happened to her?” Bear asked.

“No…I lost track of her,” I said guiltily.

She’s probably dead. She was old when I knew her.

It’s maybe stupid, but I like to imagine that she’s out there, across the country by the ocean somewhere, living the next phase of a fabulous life that paused ever-so-briefly in a mildew-y assisted living facility in New Jersey. Maybe she’s gotten back into sailing.

“You know,” I told Bear, “You’re the most gorgeous man in the world.” 



*  *  *

Do you know a most gorgeous man in the world?

Unroast: Today I love my weight. It’s a good weight. It looks right on me.


Kate on January 22nd 2014 in beauty, friendship, life, relationships

24 Responses to “the most gorgeous man in the world”

  1. daphne responded on 22 Jan 2014 at 11:46 am #

    I do. He’s my first husband (and soon to be my second husband). We met when I was 19 and he was 26 and he was a reporter and married and I was engaged too young and we were all close friends and I fell head over heels for him. A few years later we were both single and got together and I moved to California to be with him and we were crazy in love and eventually got married and it all fell apart, I’m still not entirely sure why. What I do know is that because we each lost the love of our lives, we worked really hard in the interim to fix the things in ourselves that needed fixing, and we each grew stronger and better and more grounded. And then, about two years ago, we reconnected and fell back in love, more in love than ever, and he asked me to marry him again this past weekend! He is the most gorgeous, amazing, lovely, sweet kind funny sexy dearest man in the entire world.

  2. Robert responded on 22 Jan 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    Good writing for several weeks now.I do stop and read them all.

  3. claire responded on 22 Jan 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    of course I do, and I loved him and will continue to love his memory, as long as there is any life in my old bones, and he too was the most handsome man on earth. CRF

  4. Linda responded on 22 Jan 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    Thanks for the tears and laughter you somehow bring to me with every post.

  5. San D responded on 22 Jan 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    I have to admit that your Grandpa Bernie was adorable, but I think my husband and new puppy take the most “gorgeous” category. Loved the story because what we see with our hearts will always beat out our eyes.

  6. teegan responded on 22 Jan 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    I do! I do! He looks almost nothing like what I thought the/my most gorgeous man would look like when I was young, but he totally wins.
    Except that now my son is a major competitor…
    This was an excellent piece, by the way.

    Also, I know how you feel about the weight thing. I’ve been there for the past six months or so, and it’s crazy! People always say, “oh, if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll probably never be satisfied!” or, “oh, if you want more money, you’ll never have enough!” Not true! Apparently my ideal weight is 5-10 lbs below where I’ve been the past ten years, and my finances were ideal right before I had Thomas. Eh, I’ll get there again one day…

  7. Kelli responded on 22 Jan 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Beautiful post about love! I’m lucky to be married to the most gorgeous man in the whole world! So handsome my breath catches when I see him walk in a room, or….undressed. I love him. And I’m really lucky because he thinks the same thing about me. I hope to have a lot of good years ahead of us still.

  8. morgaine responded on 22 Jan 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    My most gorgeous man in the world is dazzlingly, almost frighteningly, intense. He’s built like a satyr, complete with curled goatee and shit-eating grin. He looks like he might whisk you away in the dead of night.

    And then he smiles up at me, yawns like a lion cub, and nuzzles his curly head between my breasts. The sweetest demon I ever did see.

  9. Sarah S responded on 22 Jan 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    I do, too! He’s creative and furry and a bad speller and has the biggest, kindest heart of anyone I’ve ever met in my life (his heart is as big as my dad’s — also a most gorgeous man in the world in a very different way).

  10. Cindy responded on 22 Jan 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    Absolutely! It’s an amazing thing – there are things about him that I never knew were the most attractive, sexy things in the world. I love his chest hair and that he’s going grey. In addition to being smart, fun, and generally wonderful, he has the greatest laugh in the world, and perfect teeth without ever having had braces, and is just incredibly sexy. He has the greatest turn of phrase and opens automatic doors with The Force. And I have never been happier.

  11. Snipe responded on 23 Jan 2014 at 12:02 am #

    The most gorgeous man in the world is my husband. He looks nothing like I thought the most gorgeous man would look, because I am not capable of imagining such a wonderful man. He has the strongest jaw, the most limpid brown eyes, and the sweetest temperament. He never, ever puts me down, which is attractive beyond anything I could ever imagine. I love him more than I can say.

  12. Andrea Kelleher responded on 23 Jan 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    I so loved this post. Thanks for making me smile today.

  13. Lizzy responded on 23 Jan 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    I absolutely do! He is nothing at all like what I thought that I thought a gorgeous man was, it took me completely by surprise…he is hilarious and frustrating and kind and intelligent and a bit of a rebel all at the same time, he has loads of tattoos and always tries to do the right thing and he loves his dogs and me. He is the kindest most handsome man I’ve ever met, he is my partner :)

    Fab story about Mary, love it!

  14. Kate responded on 23 Jan 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    Love these responses so much

  15. MaryAnne responded on 24 Jan 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Thanks for another wonderful post, Kate. Reading this made me wish I lived closer to my grandmas. The elderly have so many rich stories to share!

  16. Cece responded on 27 Jan 2014 at 11:44 pm #

    This is such a cute story and you are so wise even as a teenager to make that lady feel great about her man. I would do the same. But this is such a woman’s story. I know some guys who show pictures of their girlfriends to other men, and the guys would say the girlfriend is ugly without sugarcoating. Men are really objective when it comes to looks.

  17. Jen responded on 28 Jan 2014 at 7:59 am #

    My most gorgeous man is putting my most gorgeous boy (recently turned one to bed). During story time before bed tonight, my beautiful boy lifted up his daddy’s shirt to reveal his back. I leaned in to blow a raspberry on my gorgeous husband’s back. Suddenly, my son leapt away from my breast with a giggle and a cheeky grin and started blowing raspberries on my husband’s back. Some raspberries he couldn’t do properly because he was giggling too much. Can’t get more gorgeous than that!!

  18. I just want to be happy responded on 28 Jan 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    What a lovely story! But don’t forget that the most gorgeous person in your life is YOU!
    Never give up yourself for another human being – no matter how gorgeous they are.

    Thanks for a lovely site!

  19. Casey responded on 29 Jan 2014 at 11:11 am #

    I know him! He’s tall with eyes so brown they’re almost black and he wears the ring I gave him almost 11 years ago. My husband is gorgeous to me because of all this life that’s happened between us. I feel like it’s fused us, sealed us unlike anything I’ve ever know before. It’s the outward things everyone can see–our three little ones, our home together but I think it’s what goes unseen that’s the glue. Those sacred, secret places only we know how to find, those make the difference. I have lost my heart a hundred times there. He’s gorgeous because he sees it all, everything, all of me there is to see, and he loves me. What could be more gorgeous than that?

    Kate—I am new ETDC but you’re already added to my ‘favorites’ tab. Your writing is honest in a way that makes me lean in closer to my screen when I read. Does that make sense? I think you’re brave. I think you’re funny! ‘Mom Dating’ was so good I read it out loud to my husband and my best friend. Oh, and the unroasts, my absolute favorite part of it all. I am officially inspired to be kinder to myself. I guess I am trying to say you’re rocking my socks, sister. Thank you!

  20. Kate responded on 29 Jan 2014 at 11:35 am #

    That sounds about as gorgeous as it gets! Well described!

    And thank you so much.

  21. Tovah responded on 01 Feb 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    Oh my gosh. I just loved this story so much on so many levels. I can’t wait to read more.

    Most gorgeous man of mine is my husband. I have a picture of myself walking down the aisle to marry my prince and there is a picture of me in total happiness. When real life takes over, I would pull that picture and look at it and remind myself why I married him.

    I believed that I could have died that day and felt fulfilled.

  22. Kyra responded on 13 Feb 2014 at 4:23 am #

    Such people should opt for one of the Gaming laptops available in top brands. If you have that kind of cash and are willing to pay it, then this laptop will send you straight to gaming heaven.

  23. kaleen responded on 11 Mar 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    TOTALLY! whooo!

  24. Farha responded on 02 May 2014 at 5:46 am #

    you made me cry!
    luv the article.. <3