charm

Charm Offensive

Charm is like a Magic Eye word for me. I know what it means, but my understanding of it is always changing. Officially, and as a noun, charm is the power or quality of giving delight or arousing admiration. But in my head, charm also has an unctuous quality. Salesmen are charming. As a verb, charm is to control or achieve as if by magic. I imagine charming people as vacuous and good looking, without a worry about their phone’s battery life. Under that definition, a charming person wouldn’t charm me.

Of course, I have been charmed by people, and the more charming people I meet, the more I realize that charm, or good charm anyway, doesn’t feel like a noun. It feels like a nascent connection, a small joke that is the start of a larger friendship. The most charming people, to me anyway, listen well and make good eye contact. They aren’t big personalities. They are sincere, almost earnest. They wouldn’t describe themselves as charming, and I doubt they mean to be.

But even with that kind of charming person, there’s a salesman feeling. It comes later, when the small jokes stay small. The really charming ones can get away with it, though. The feeling of potential around them is so great it’s almost better than something real.