Cute and Beauty


Cute and Beauty came about while attending a workshop at the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill. Poet, essayist and memoir writer Michael Klein orchestrated The Original Idea: A Memoir Workshop. If you know Michael, music and poetry are what really surges through his heart, so conducting us in a symphony of creativity is an accurate description of the experience. We read essays, worked on assignments, and dazzled ourselves with ideas.

Although each member of the group had the same directives no two pieces were remotely alike. We all come to the writing from various life vantage points. What’s important to one person hasn’t crossed the mind of another. Perhaps that is why we all worked together so well.

It isn’t my usual nature to write this way but I opened the computer to begin and a playful, yet philosophical, sprite took over the keyboard.

Cute & Beauty

“Oh, isn’t that cute?”

“You look so cute today.”

“Did you see what they did? It was the cutest!”

I hate cute. It is so demeaning. It is so perky and wide-eyed, innocent and coy. Cute is soft. Cute is naïve.

Cute is dangerous for small beings in some situations.

Beauty, on the other hand, is laden with life, draped in knowing, saturated by light. Quiet beauty takes a seat while cute runs around in circles and wears out.

Beauty sits in the kitchen and peels potatoes while cute rushes to the store for parsley.

Beauty has time to listen.

Beauty knows disappointment, has the stitches to prove it.

Beauty loves cute, knowing the time will make the sharp edges smooth.

 * * *

 Mrs. Cardinal, the bird, is beautiful. Mister is flashy as all get out, while Mrs. is subtle in russet plumage, sassy crest and orange beak.

Cute is baby anything—except perhaps the sharp begging beaks of unfledged robins still in the nest.

Cute is an insult to an older woman, praise to the young gay boy testing his new tight pants.


Beauty is your profile when I see it out of the corner of my eye, when you don’t know I’m looking, and you are listening and thinking.

Cute is me in my wetsuit, showing off for the photographer. Maybe.


Two gay men walking down the street pass another guy by the telephone pole. “He has such a cute ass,” one says admiringly.

But isn’t that a throwaway line? What about a smart ass, a total ass, a firm and shapely ass? Would one use cute for any other body parts—a mind, an elbow, a foot? What a cute mind she has, just doesn’t work. Cute isn’t for everything. Some things are not clever.

How about a beautiful derriere? That might work. Handsome too.

Beauty is bolder, even if we are talking about the same cute thing.






Posted on September 2, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Beautiful piece Shelley! A real original. Keep nurturing this style of writing. I love the wise insights that poke through.

  2. good one! Love this! I used to have trouble with the word cute, but like “girl,” have incorporated it over the years when appropriate. Beauty sounds so much more MATURE, eh?!!

    Are you on campus? This month is nuts with lots of travel and preparation for my October 10 symposium, but after that I’d LOVE to see ya!!

  3. Well my Cape experience was certainly different than yours. Mine the search for the best salted caramel anything…candy, ice cream, etc. Yours the search for truth and honesty. However the beauty of wading in shallows admiring horseshoe and hermit crabs wasn’t lost on me. The enormous seal surfacing almost too close as I floated in icy ocean water rejuvenating my weary city soul exhilarating. However if one more woman tells me how cute my haircut is at 61 years old, I might become Rapunzel dropping my metaphorical hair for them to climb up so they can read your piece! Love to you my friend….

  4. Ah! A wonderful way to start my day, Shelley! I loved this. You’ve got me thinking, too (of course) about how I use the word ‘cute’…I’ll be pondering that today!
    Love, JT

  5. Poetic and incitefull riffs on our culture. An eye-opener. Thanks, Shelley. Mike

  6. Shelley. I LOVE this!!!! I love the lilt; the depth; and the playful nature of what you did here….thank you for sharing it!!! oxoxox pamela

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