You Look Marvelous, I Think

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Thought for the day: More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly” – Woody Allen

Do you remember the Extreme Makeover shows on network TV back in the early 2000s? I don’t know why I started to think about it a day or two ago, but they crossed my mind as I walked by a full-length mirror.

There were some remarkable transformations done on that show. The participants would go away for weeks and have the most extensive body overhauls imaginable – everything from nose jobs and full dental replacements, to massive additions or subtractions to areas normally covered by a bra or highlighted by a thong bikini (well, maybe not). The man or woman having all this work done was then paraded before a huge gathering of friends and family at a lavish hotel or town hall.

It was always a huge surprise when plain ‘Jane’ or loony old ‘Harold’ with the big nose and 3” overbite came down the stairs. Now they were God’s gift to the opposite sex and believe me, they were – well most of them anyway. There’s a limit to modern cosmetology. We can’t overlook that silk purse/sow’s ear thing.

I can see why people subject themselves to these major surgical procedures. There are precious few of us who wouldn’t change the odd real or perceived flaw especially if someone else is paying for it.

The surgery and makeover was no bed of roses by the way. There was a hell of a lot of agony involved and a lot of the recipients went through some pretty harrowing experiences to look reasonably pretty or handsome in an odd sort of way.

One thing bothered me about the whole process. In the hours before their grand unveiling, and I do mean hours, they are virtually swarmed by teams of make-up artists, hair stylists and cosmetic technicians from the world of beauty. In the end they looked wonderful as they came down the stairs dressed in a ball gown designed one of the big names in the world of fashion or wearing a tux by Bill Blass or Rudolph Valentino.

I don’t mean to be cruel, but what did they look like the next morning when Jane or Harold rolled out of bed and the hundreds of dollars of makeup was an inch thick on the pillow? When that fabulous coif that brought sighs of admiration from the assembled guests was now flat on one side and sticking out like the straw under a scarecrow’s hat on the other, what then? When Jane’s long-suffering husband (remember she had been gone for weeks) woke up, looked down at her and said, “Holy Moses, Jane, where did the other girl go?”

And poor Harold, who got lucky for the first time in 20 years, read the note pinned to his pillow. “I saw you in broad daylight. Don’t call me; I’ll call you – not.”

Hopefully the makeovers worked for them. They had gone through a lot of pain and no little amount of public humiliation. The producers of the show kept flashing back to show how homely they were in the beginning and some of subjects looked pretty scruffy. I don’t think I’d like to be reminded of it over and over again.

But miracles only happen in fairy tales, and in the long run the prince or the princess waiting at home is still kissing a frog. I really didn’t mean that. But Jane and Harold were after all still Jane and Harold. On the other hand if they felt better about themselves I suppose that’s all that matters.

I thought about having a bit of work down myself, but decided not to bother. I’m sort of a dumpy combination of a young Richard Gere and Robert Redford now. Why should I take a chance on ruining that?

One night on the show, a woman who hadn’t been a gargoyle in the first place came down the stairs an angel. She really did. She was beautiful and looked about 20 years younger. But waiting at the bottom was her husband, an average guy, a rancher I think. He could stand to lose a few pounds. He was balding and looked like the kind of guy who was more at home with a plaid shirt and a pair of faded jeans rather than a suit off the rack at Dapper Dan’s. I started to think about him. He looked out of place somehow. And I began to wonder what he was thinking as this goddess smiled down upon him. Of course he looked elated, who wouldn’t be? But was he really?

Or was he was thinking, “Who is this beautiful creature? What happened to the girl I married? Where is the girl who pitched hay with me every summer, gathered the eggs and milked a herd of cows at dawn before we could afford a milking machine? Is that girl still under there? God, I hope so, because I loved her. I wonder if this new girl will love me.”

I hope so.

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