Henry Kissinger, No. 1 neighbor?

April 03, 1995|By KEVIN COWHERD

Whenever I want up-to-date information on the dynamics of what attracts men and women to each other, I go right to the most comprehensive source available, which is, of course, USA Today.

Recently, the paper printed this little gem: As part of something called "The Nesting Habits of New Yorkers Survey," a group of men and women were asked which celebrity they'd want to live next door to if given the choice.

Naturally, the survey quickly degenerated into lasciviousness, as the men's top choice was Michelle Pfeiffer. Some of the women's choices were predictable: John F. Kennedy Jr., Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, etc.

But their top choice wasn't predictable at all -- at least not to me.

Because their top choice, the man they would most like to "borrow a cup of sugar from," was . . . Henry Kissinger.

Well. When I read this, I was so stunned that I had to put the paper down and do a series of deep-breathing exercises to keep the room from spinning.

And even after I regained my composure, it was several minutes before I could think of anything except: Henry Kissinger?!

Look, when I think of Henry Kissinger, I think of a lot of things.

I think of a giant intellect.

I think of an extraordinary former statesman.

I think of a prodigious author of weighty foreign policy tomes.

But I don't picture a guy who causes women to whirl around on the sidewalk and think: "Whoa! Where's he been hiding?!"

And let's face it, that's what this survey is all about.

Oh, they can gussy it up by saying it's about "nesting habits" and what kind of neighbors we'd like to have and blah, blah, blah.

But basically what the survey boiled down to is this: If you could choose a hot-looking neighbor to answer the door wearing nothing but a towel, who would it be?

So then you have to ask: The women who chose Henry Kissinger, what were they thinking?

Because the fact is, when it comes to looks, Henry Kissinger is a hunk only if you're in need of a double-cornea transplant.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he's a frog. And I'm no Robert Redford myself. But Henry Kissinger just isn't up there with those other guys chosen by the women in the survey.

For instance, I don't think John F. Kennedy Jr. or Alec Baldwin ever watches Henry Kissinger at a social event and think: "Geez, how does he do it?"

When he was younger and unattached, I don't think Michael Douglas ever became interested in a woman and found himself thinking: "What would Henry do in this situation?"

Even if the women in the survey chose Kissinger just because he'd be a fascinating guy to live next door to, I'm not sure he'd make such a great neighbor.

First of all, he always struck me as being sort of grumpy, although maybe that was because Vietnam War protesters were always calling him a "baby killer" and reporters were always bugging him about how he was going to end the war. I could see how that could make you a little touchy.

But secondly, with that deep voice and thick German accent, Kissinger as a neighbor might be hard to understand.

You might see him across your backyard fence and he'd yell something like: "Eez yore vawter beel high?" and it would take you a few minutes to figure out he was asking about your water bill.

The other thing is that a guy like Henry Kissinger moves in some pretty exclusive circles. And this might get in the way of his being a thoughtful neighbor at times.

For example, you might wander next door to borrow his hedge clippers and find him on the phone with Hafez el Assad or Margaret Thatcher or Boris Yeltsin or someone like that.

And then you couldn't really blame the guy if he got testy and you heard him grumble: "Hold on a sec, Hafez. There's someone at the door. It's probably that pain-in-the-neck neighbor of mine . . ."

Understand, I'm not saying Henry Kissinger wouldn't be a generous neighbor.

I'm not saying he wouldn't be the first guy to say: "I hear your sump pump's acting up. Lemme grab my tools and we'll take a look."

I'm just saying he might not be a guy who handles interruptions well.

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