He’s homely. With his Neanderthal brow and beaky nose, he is no way handsome. Not what you’d consider hot. Except, the way some homely guys are hot because of what they do, like climb mountains. Which, as you find out more about him, starts to spark. And he’s smart, in funny ways you never even thought of being smart. Like coolly putting out his hand and fixing a latch, or a toilet, or a computer, that you never even thought could work right.
He doesn’t pinball through the world the way you’re used to seeing. He is the exact opposite of best-little-boy-in-the-world. He calmly holds what he is in his hands, and it never even occurs to him to prove himself. He’s homely, always has been, so he’s got nothing to lose on that score. But he knows his worth, and it has nothing to do with how he looks.
So, by and by, you start getting interested. Maybe here is the overlooked, hidden gold! But if there’s some return interest, and the lock tumblers start meshing in him, it doesn’t work the same way. He’s liable to come out with, “Hey, the lock tumblers are turning in me…” Or some such, exactly the wrong thing to say.
He doesn’t do this thing you never even realized people do, until he doesn’t do it. Namely, emotionally entrain. Get giddy, or mopey, or histrionic on cue to match the crowd. This usual social lubricant is missing. He doesn’t play by the rules. Doesn’t know the rules. Doesn’t even know there are rules. He might do anything! It’s thrilling in a way! But you can’t get in. You feel like a moth banging your head against a lantern. How much of this, before you fly away?
One thing. All these budding sparks that fizzled before they even started. It kept him from getting AIDS