Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Right Chick

I'm in the business of creating perceptions. Although PR people are often hired to get clients publicity, the real purpose of PR is to get the client - "The Right Publicity." As my Uncle Jeffrey once said, "My job is to look pretty and your job is to make sure I look pretty." And so, PR folks the world over tend to work very hard to make their clients look pretty regardless of the situation (And it becomes especially interesting outside Singapore when journalist need the client to look ugly at times).

Anyway, one of the things that we, the PR folk often need to take into consideration is our own prettiness. For women in the business, it's all about looking glamorous at the right time. For men, its about being manly without being a total jerk.

There are accessories to looking good. Women may complain about how much simpler a man's wardrobe is, but the truth is, women have allot more tools at their disposal to make them look great then men have. Women have make-up, jewellery and a host of other things they can use to make sure they get looked at. It's reached a stage where these accessories can work miracles. Han Li has a friend with an obvious birth-mark - but once she applies make up - it's bye bye birthmark. There is simply no such equivalent for a man. Thomas, my stepfather number 2, has become a watch-freak - because, well the watch is probably the only thing a man can wear in addition to his cloths to look good.

There is however an accessory that men often over look - namely the woman at their side. I remember very clearly that when I was married to Gina, my Dad would remind me that people often formed impressions about men by the women at their side. And he's not wrong - just look at every election in the USA or the UK, where a ridiculous amount of media attention is paid to a candidate's spouse. Hillary may be the first "First Lady" to make her mark as an independent politician in her own right but nobody has forgotten how Nancy stood by Ronnie or Jacqueline Kennedy who was the glamorous face of Jack Kennedy's White House. It's no different across the Atlantic - Royalty continues to be embodied by Princes Diana, who was in truth a white woman who had the good sense to die young (had she lived....the public would never have forgiven her for being with an Arab as she was trying to get over a Paki).

Anyway, I've been fortunate in one respect. My best customers have been from communities where they prefer you to meet with them as a single guy. And so, I guess I can be a jack-ass who loves to tickle his betters by bringing the Flesh Ball to Five-Star Hotels.

I guess, its a case of who you are and how you project yourself. For me, I try to make myself reasonably presentable. I make it a point to be in a jacket whenever I visit the Saudi Embassy or GE. Most of the time, I'm just in pants or a shirt but these days, the industry seems to accept jeans and sock less shoes as long as they're decent sock less shoes (I'm in Timberlands or Docksiders).

But other than that, I am somewhat of a happy go-lucky guy. I love the thrill of creating something from nothing. I like bringing two parties together for a decent winning situation. Where I fail is in my inability to "pretend" to like people and so, I make it a point to work with people I'll enjoy working with. Somehow, the work is always more important than the woman at my side.

Which leads to an interesting observation. At my birthday celebration, two weeks ago, a friend of mine brought along three-Russian girls. Like all good Russian girls, they looked stunning - they were elegant and dressed to kill. They certainly made an impression on everyone who noticed my little entourage.

The funny thing is......they made different impressions on different people. The friend of mine who brought them along reports that the band at the Long Bar thinks much more highly of me. It's a case of - "What a man! He had that stunner with him." Hadi was quick to point out to me that if Elvira, the blond Russian I seemed to be talking to, was seen with me, I'd create a major impression.

The funny thing is, the Westerners who saw the girls also thought they looked good. However, all of a man, assumed that the girls were .....paid for. To quote Luke: "You don't charm girls like those into your ask them how much."

I grew up in Western Europe, so my views of East European women is more in-line with my Western friends. The Russians were good to look at and I enjoyed the odd private moment I had with Elvira.....but at the end of the day, I've meet girls in Geylang who looked less mercenary.

Leaving aside personal feelings, perceptions are difficult to manage. As a man, do you want to be known as the stud who is always seen with a "head-turner." My male ego is certainly boosted whenever I get compliments for being around a nice looking woman.

But even that can backfire. My friend, who brought the Russian girls, is a married man, who thinks it makes him look cool when he talks about his various conquest. On his wedding day, he told a mutual friend he would run off to Europe to have fun irregardless of what his wife said. The mutual friend admitted to me that his marks didn't inspire the "You're cool" feelings but anger ...because....the girl he married is a good person. So, I guess there is obviously something known as being seen with TOO many women.

Perhaps it's just best to be with the woman who makes you feel best. I guess it's not all about glamour (most glamour people in Singapore on debt) but about what a woman does for you. Ultimately Gina was not good for me because...well I didn't want to be better when I was around her. Before that, there was a Malaysian girl called Adelene who was always seen with me in public - my Caucasian friends seemed to think she looked wonderful ....but I also didn't want to be a better person. I think the only one who seemed to do it for me was Carra...she was not glamorous or dressed like a doll, but I wanted to be a better man around her.

I suppose, at the end of the day, a woman can make or break a man. A beautiful woman can create a good perception for a man. But physically beautiful women are a dime-a-dozen and ultimately a man who goes for women to create a perception about himself is going to fail, where as a man who chooses a woman who brings out the best in him succeeds. I don't know........

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