Let me tell you something about stand-up comics and people in the business of making other people laugh in general: We’ve never had any delusions about being beautiful. It’s not that you can’t be funny and physically beautiful (whatever that means) at the same time. It doesn’t mean you have to be hideous to be humorous. It just means that very early on in most of our lives, we realized like most people do, consciously or otherwise, that pretty takes you places. Maybe it made you the teacher’s pet or the aunt’s favorite. So for those of us who were never considered pretty (whatever that means) we one day decided consciously or otherwise: “Okay, I’m not earning any points with my sweet smiles or dimples, let’s see what else I got.” I’ve always really admired people like Jodie Foster and Brooke Shields who are physically beautiful, and talented, and strong, and have gotten great educations. They didn’t let the rest of themselves rot trying to skate by on the “Look at me. Aren’t I beautiful?” card.
Then there’s my niece, Carla. She’s as cute as a button. It’s not an opinion. It’s a proven medical diagnosis. First there was the eye glasses place. We went in together. Everyone in the store turned to look at her. It was like Virgin Mary had just walked through the door. Never mind the other stumpy, kinky-haired Jewess holding the door so she could walk through it. Three sales people walked up to us. Are you kidding me? I’ve been going to this optical store for two years. Since when do they have three employees? I usually have to wander into the back area and beg someone to come help me when they’re done with their coffee.
“Good Morning. How may I help you?” I thought they were going to break out in song.
Carla was in need of a pair of glasses. I remember this sales guy, Steve. When I was here last month he measured me for glasses by holding up the ruler from across the room, closing one eye, mumbling, “close enough” and putting the ruler back in his pocket. But now Steve was a changed man. He was like a born again optician. He spent twenty minutes measuring Carla’s face. Then the saleswoman did the same thing to confirm his numbers. I really wanted to say: “Hey, you guys are much better customer service people than they had here last month. They really sucked!”
Everyone was so attentive and courteous to Carla. They brought her dozens of frames to try on that would look just right with her eye color and the shape of her face. Even the salesman who was working with another customer brought some over: I was dying to ask: “So when did you guys start working on commission?”
They lavished Carla.
“Here, take this glasses case. Your glasses won’t be ready until next week, but sometimes we run out of these cases. And they’re the nicest ones so you want to be sure you get one.”
Here I had to intervene:
“Look, I paid you people $300 for my glasses, and I’ve been carrying them around wrapped in tissues for two months because you keep telling me you have no glass cases. Could I possibly get one of those?”
Okay, so I got a dirty look and the case was tossed in my general direction and I had to scoop it up before it hit the floor but it still felt like a victory.
And the optical debacle isn’t the only example.
I won’t even go into the whole incident at the minor league baseball game. The wind-up of it: An usher walked over without saying a word and handed a baseball from the game to my niece. Twenty thousand fans were in attendance that day but he handed the ball to her without her as much as putting a hand up to request it. I wondered if the ball had been fouled back and knocked me unconscious if he would have called 911 or just pretended he didn’t see me slumping to the floor or hear my head hitting the concrete, and keep on dusting off the seats for the cute girls.
I’m also wondering now after reading over what I’ve written if it’s petty and obnoxious that I’m jealous of my own niece… And if I should have maybe, perhaps, started this whole post by telling you that she’s seven.
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