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My first roommate in college, a freshman, had a best friend from high school who was kind of her frenemy. Jennifer was her name. My roommate would show me photos of the two together, and speak — sometimes wistfully — about all the guys who’d be after Jennifer while she waited in the wings.

Looking at the photos, I couldn’t see the appeal. My roommate had long blond hair and long legs and long, sooty eyelashes and the most beautiful dimpled smile, while Jennifer was, well, short and downright plain. Not pretty or ugly, maybe a 5 on the 1–10 scale. Much less makeup and hair styling, but average looking as they come.

I had not met Jennifer, but the next quarter, I had a speech class with her. I saw the same average face, thin but otherwise unremarkable figure, short height. But then I got to hear her talk, and OMG, her voice. That was it. It was everything,

It’s hard to describe, velvety and kind of throaty but not in any way that suggests smoking or a hard life, Just a natural, feminine wholesome rasp, like a more melodious Lindsay Lohan. She delivered every word in a magical alto pitch that hit your earwaves on some strange but wonderful frequency. When she spoke, or heck, even coughed, people took notice. It was fun to see substitute teachers double-take when they called on her in class.

She was smart, too. Had a quick wit, and was not as prone to saying “like” and “ohmigod” and all those young-girl filler words. But it did not seem at all affected or foreign.

She may have been sexy in other ways, to men, but I didn’t pick up on it. The voice was enough. It changed the way she was perceived, appealed to an aural sense that few people seem in touch with. I saw the men who chased after her, and I got it.

Many years later, I read in ELLE Magazine about some voice coach in NY who’d work with clients to perfect their pitch for whatever calculated reason, and the writer described what I had observed about voice quality and attractiveness, and I immediately realized why.

I only encountered one other person with this type of magical voice. I was somewhere outside of San Francisco, participating in a PR stunt on a racetrack, where they’d set up an obstacle course with oil on the road, rain-slicked areas, and other simulated road conditions.

The idea is you would drive this course in say, a Ford or a Nissan, then try out the comparably-priced Saturn. Saturn would outperform their competition in this obstacle race, and thus the selling point — “Saturn performs better in hazards than similar cars” — would be demonstrated and thus more believable.

Anyway, agency folk aside, most of the recruited participants were car salesmen or repair people. I think some were automotive bloggers. Anyway, not slick ad men. One of the guys in my group had the same voice quality, and boy, did we all stop to listen when he shyly started talking.

Description wise, I might throw out “Matthew McConaghey with a Northern California accent and the gravitas of a Supreme Court Judge.” Again, there was something about his register that perked everyone’s ears up. He was not loud, but he dominated that particular frequency, and you could hear every word, not just in your ears but in your body (like you can feel vibrations from drumming or deep bass.)

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