I Am Safe, But How About You?

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Did you know that in Chicago it is against the law for exceedingly ugly people to appear in public – or so it says in Uncle John’s Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader? I can hear someone saying, “Myrtle, is that all we are going to get from Foster all summer, quotations from some book on the back of his john?” You bet and I’m just on Page Twelve.

The answer of course is ‘yes’. But don’t you find it strange that every now and then we come across something that strikes us as a bit odd but apparently is true? It would be nice if we could pass this ‘ugly’ business off as one of those weird things that American city councils come up with after smoking loco-weed or drinking a can or two of their watery beer. However, we can’t do that since Canadian politicians are just as guilty of dreaming up laws or enacting legislation every bit as stupid. At the moment, I can’t think of any goofy local laws or classic goofs, but Doug imposing the Notwithstanding Clause on us then acting so surprised when the public complained must be in there somewhere.

The trouble with weird legislation, especially a bylaw that keeps ugly people off the street, is who is going to be the judge? And maybe what is more important is ‘ugly’ compared to who or whom? (I never know when to use ‘whom’. It always sounds so pretentious. “Whom do you wish to speak to? I dunno, how about that ugly guy over there?”)

I hate to say this while since he has gone to his reward, but I always thought Ernest Borgnine was not what one would call a handsome man. When he married the late Ethel Merman (not quite a modern-day Aphrodite as I recall) I used to lie awake nights trying to picture what the offspring would look like should they consummate the marriage – as horrifying as such a coupling would have been. Fortunately, the marriage ended rather suddenly when quite by accident they saw each other in the daylight.

And yet, what is beauty really? Helen of Troy was supposed to have been exceptionally beautiful. She was so gloriously fair it was said that her face launched a thousand ships. But how did she look after the fleet had sailed and the medics were picking the slivers out of her beak?

George Bernard Shaw may have come close to the truth when he said, ’Beauty is all very well at first sight, but who ever looks at it when it has been in the house three days?George was not exactly Brad Pitt himself. It was his wife’s idea for him to grow that foot-long beard. Whenever they went to bed, she pushed it up over his face.

But back to the topic at hand:

As everyone knows I am light years away from having to worry should I visit the Windy City since I am a bit of a looker, but I feel it is my duty as a caring person to protect those citizens who have been short-changed by the Beauty Fairy. I am offering (at no charge) a short quiz that will tell you if you are in any danger of spending the night in an 8’ X 8’ cell that once housed Al Capone.

  1. When you show up at family gatherings, does someone invariably remind you that when you were born, the doctor took one look at you and slapped your mother?
  2. Think back to the time you went to see the musical, Beauty and the Beast. Did an usher run out, drag you from the line-up saying, “What are you doing out here? You’re on in 5 minutes.”
  3. When you walked by Battalia’s Fruit Market when you were a small child, did Rose and the other Italian ladies inside cross themselves and shut the store down for the day?
  4. Are you restricted from the hiking trails in Banff National Park lest you frighten the grizzlies?
  5. When your heart of hearts is reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways does he or she look at you, smile a little sadly, and go on to the next page?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, I would stay out of Chicago. That of course, is assuming Homeland Security lets you across the border in the first place. The truth is it really doesn’t matter what we look like. Physical beauty is only window dressing anyway. At least that is what Mary’s sister told her when she first introduced me.

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