MICHAEL FASSBENDER IS one of the most bankable Hollywood actors around today. But his role in Shame, directed by his old Hunger partner Steve McQueen and featuring explicit sexual scenes, has earned him credits in a slightly different direction.
At the Golden Globes ceremony earlier this year, George Clooney thanked Fassbender for taking over his responsibility for full frontal nudity in film in general (and Shame in particular) and went on to say he believed Mr Fassbender could play golf with hands behind his back. Ever since, jokes and tributes to Fassbender’s best supporting member have continued around the globe.
At the Irish Film and Television Awards in Dublin, I recently met with Michael Fassbender and was rendered speechless.
Ah, the sounds of silence. There have been a few. I remember a university tutorial on the origins of the Spanish Civil War. I had prepared and researched the topic but had not managed to write a concluding paper. As my patient, and also handsome professor (maybe there is a trend) gently prompted me for the main cities in Spain, all I could think of was the party-fuelled and package-filled Spanish resorts of Magaluf and Torremolinos. Which may not have existed even as hamlets in the 1930s. My professor took pity on me and took the tutorial.
Ah, meeting Mr Fassbender. At the crowded smoking area in the cold outside the function room, where the glamorous gathered to smoke, I found myself at his elbow. He was happily chatting with a circle of people, some of whom were at my table. I paused, I listened, and when no suitable break in conversation could be found, I tugged his sleeve like a child.
He turned and smiled at me, and I said that I just wanted to say hello. He smiled some more and so did I, but my mind was empty of all words, adjectives, capitals, nouns, tenses, commas, and just any punctuation in general.
Instead, I had this overwhelming image of his phallus. It was the metaphorical size of the elephant in the room, pun intended. As words failed me, the image grew and grew in importance and stature. It was palpable between us as my brain grew this impediment to speech. Finally, he asked my name and I stammered it, but then excused myself, blushing.
‘He agreed before legging it in the opposite direction at high speed’
So this is my question. Men, by many accounts, are prone to see women—especially attractive women—by the sum of their body parts. I have read repeatedly and have been told ad nauseum that men see not the face but the rack; not the smile, but the legs. They have an advanced peripheral visual acuity which allows them to view the body parts, without necessarily allowing the eyes to drift too obviously.
With such sensitivity, how on earth do men make sensible conversation when presented with a beautiful woman? Or have I answered my own question, thinking about the generations of tongue-tied would-be suitors in this world?
Girding my metaphorical loins to counter Mr Fassbender’s imagined ones, I returned to the scene of my speechlessness and requested a photograph. He kindly obliged. I was still incapable of coherent, elegant or intelligent conversation, so I finished off by asking Mr Fassbender if he would launch my book. Maybe I wanted to prolong the conversation, maybe I wanted to let him know there lurked a brain behind my inane grinning, and definitely I wanted some legitimate way of contacting him again so I could ask him to play the lead in the film version. He agreed before legging it in the opposite direction at high speed. He must have known the silent ones are the most deadly, taking his rapid leave before my motor skills returned and I could summon up new and more fanciful requests. A dance, a date, or marriage perhaps?
So having been in the place of awe where my entire being had been focused on the unmentioned phallus of Mr Fassbender, I must reluctantly applaud you men. Genetically predisposed to dissecting women into genital titillation, I wonder how you can function at all in the presence of a beautiful woman.
If I had stayed any longer, I fear that the old Beverly Brothers’ line would have made an appearance. “If I said you have a beautiful body, Mr Fassbender, would you hold it against me?”
However, having since regained my capacity for words (as you’ve just read), I now just wait for Mr. Fassbender’s availability to launch my novel. Maybe the next time we might even have a conversation.
That fateful encounter (Photo: Jillian Godsil)
Jillian Godsil is a writer living south of Dublin. She runs a public relations business, is a freelance journalist and is writing four books this year. She lives with her two teenage girls, dog, cat and four horses in a tiny village. For more, see jilliangodsil.com.
A version of this post originally appeared on the Good Men Project.