Veronica Hendrix

*With Valentine’s Day happening next week, I thought this encore offering of “The Undeniable Reaction to Attraction” would be fitting. I hope you enjoy it. Next week will be my prologue to Valentine’s Day after the day devoted to romance has lost its glow

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He reached out his hand and slowly grasped the cup of iced Caffé Americano from her hand. His strong fingers lightly caressed her delicate hand as she demurely released the cup from her grasp. He paused a minute. His eyes danced as he searched her effervescent face. She smiled coyly and said, “Thank you.” He winked at the charming young Barista, then gently pressed his business card into the palm of her hand, and left the coffee house with a swaggering gait and a heart filled with excitement about the possibilities.

I don’t know if the two star-crossed admirers knew I was watching their exchange as I sat in the coffee house pretending to read the newspaper.  They were totally oblivious to me or anyone else around them.

It was refreshing to witness the flame of intrigue spontaneously ignite, that thing that happens when attraction and fascination collide in an instant.  It was enchanting and made me hearken back to some of my most memorable, chance meetings.

It also got me thinking about the dynamics of attraction and what causes us to be either attracted or attractive to someone.

Attraction is completely subjective. What is attractive or what induces interest in the eyes and heart of one person can be totally disinteresting or un-stimulating to another.

I used to have the most incurable crush on Frank Zeno in 6th grade (Frank you probably never knew this). He was tall, lanky, dark chocolate and had a smile that would light up Times Square. When he spoke to me, which usually amounted to teasing and taunting, I got all gooey inside. My girlfriends thought he looked like a “geek and acted like a creep.” They couldn’t understand what I saw in this magnificent specimen. But I didn’t care. I adored him because he had that special something that made me all flustered.

Attraction is also a dynamic force.  It changes as we evolve.  The kind of fella that used to bedazzle me twenty years ago with his bravado, brawn and chiseled good looks doesn’t raise a goose bump these days. Today, he has to have working capital – which I define as intellectual, altruistic, pecuniary and otherwise – to make my eyes glisten and get me on the dance floor of love.

Lastly, attraction is an organic and chemically based response – that is until it gets edited by logic and higher reasoning – you know rational analysis.

In fact, there is a cocktail of chemicals in our brains that ignites our attraction and entices us to fall in love.  You probably have heard of some of them such as adrenalin and cortisol. When you are attracted to someone, these chemical can cause you to break out in a cold sweat, cause your heart to race like crazy, and they can even cause your throat to get dry and scratchy.

Then there’s dopamine, a substance that stimulates a desire to be with the one whom you are attracted to. It gives you an incredible rush of energy, diminishing the need for sleeping or eating. Nothing like a new love interest to help shave off a few unwanted pounds I always say.

And finally there’s oxytocin, known as the cuddle or attachment hormone. Scientists believe it is the hormone that deepens our feelings of attachment and makes couples feel much closer, especially after they have had sex. The belief is that the more sex a couple has, the deeper their bond and attachment becomes because of the increased presence of oxytocin.

There are a myriad of triggers that send these chemicals pumping through your veins. Like a welcoming smile, a shapely figure, an intellectual wit, inquisitive eyes, a virile swagger, swiveling hips, a humorous quip, a subtle glance, a soft spoken greeting, a confident gaze, a well turned phase, a heartfelt laugh, just to mention a few.

The sequence of attraction, according to researchers goes something like this: people are first induced by visual triggers, such as body language or physical attributes, which stimulates their interest; secondly, it’s the resonance of a person’s voice; then finally, the content of what a person says actually seals the deal.

Researchers also say it takes between 90 seconds to just four minutes for an individual to decide if they are truly attracted to someone once they aggregate all of these factors within moments of their initial encounter. That’s some quick figuring going on in our brains in a matter of minutes.  That’s apparently what went on with the chance encounter between the charming gentleman and the lovely Barista – it was a wonderful illustration of the dynamics of attraction at work.

Will the lovely lady call the enraptured stranger before he returns for a refill?  I sure hope so. I’m rooting for the brotha.  The undeniable reaction to their attraction is the stuff romance novels are made of. Live the dream girl, call him. Happy Valentine’s Day.

(If you have comments about Veronica’s View, email them to [email protected])