Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Does this beard make me look like Steven Spielberg?
If you are curious as to how the process works—and no one has asked, so maybe you're not, but I'm telling you anyway—I wake up, and write something, either for the paper or here or both. It goes online, and in print, and people react to it.
My subject is basically what's on my mind. Tuesday it was the you-look-like-Steven-Spielberg trope. I started writing something, then Abner Mikva died, so I wrote his obit—he seemed so hale when I had lunch with him in January, I thought there was no rush. Then I returned to this column.
Which seemed fine .... until an editor had the idea of taking my picture, and running it next to Spielberg's. I looked at the two, and had this thought, for the very first time: "Shit. They're RIGHT. I DO look like Steven Spielberg. Fuck. I look WORSE!"
Which sort of put me in a quandary. I thought of yanking the column back. But that seemed panicky. If I did that every time I had second thoughts, nothing would ever get printed. The higher road seemed to be, heck, show some spine, leave it out there. Probably be ignored, like most everything online, but if it provokes a geyser of derision, well, so what else is new?
My wife sleeps later than I do — beauty’s privilege. At home, I use the time to write stuff. On vacation, I go to the hotel gym.
But the oil light went on during our drive East, so I figured an early-morning trip to the Jiffy Lube was in order.
In the waiting room with coffee and the Post, a Jiffy Lube employee, Louis, called my name and began a canned pitch: we should also rotate your tires and change your transmission fluid and . . . .
No, no, no. Just the oil.
That bit of robotic business out of the way, Louis blinked, and seemed to notice me for the first time.
“Did anyone ever tell you you look like Steven Spielberg?” he said.
People tell me that all the time, so much that I have a canned reply.
“I don’t look like Steven Spielberg,” I said. “I’m just a Jewish guy in a baseball cap and a beard....”
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