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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  1. The first time I saw your picture with a beard, I thought of not of Spielberg but Burl Ives, although his face is much rounder than yours. But if you google search of Burl Ives, you'll find one or two pics where he bears a passing resemblance to Spielberg, so there's that...

  2. With regard to Abner Mikva's obit: my brother got an updated version of the "nobody sent" routine when my father (a Chicago policeman) sent him over to the Park District to look for a job. The people there sent him to the Ward office, which promptly told him to return to the Park District. After a couple of round trips, he got the message. And became a Republican. Not right away of course and aside from an unwonted sensitivity to criticism of George W. Bush, he was almost as liberal as I.


  3. Strangers used to say I looked like Bob Newhart. I couldn't see it, but my wife said there was a resemblance. After a while I took to responding, "Yes. And people are always telling him he looks like me."

    Nice job on the Mikva obit. One assumes it's been on the shelf for a while. I learned about "nobody sent" when assigned to profile
    a neighborhood in South Chicago, then a lily-white bit of "steeltown," as part of a U. of Chicago sociology fieldwork course. I was met with a cold shoulder trying to get official statistics and people I tried to interview about local history were not very forthcoming. Then I took up with a girl I met in a local cafe, and ended up being invited into her home to meet her daddy, who happened to be a precinct captain. He was interested in my project, probably because of what of use he thought I might uncover, and was, himself, a mine of information. He also told me I could use his name in making inquiries. My report practically wrote itself. The affair was, itself, short lived. The girl said, with some amusement, that her mother liked me but was worried because I was neither Polish nor Catholic. She herself tended to lose interest after a few dates on discovering I was not in funds and didn't have a car.

    Tom Evans

  4. I think you and Steven Spielberg are both good looking guys.

    P.S. Tell your wife there's no need to be jealous since I'm also happily married :-)

    Linda B

  5. Neil seems never to run out of timely topics, but, given his gift for exegisis, one would like to get his take on two religious-themed stories in today's news. First, the newly opened exact replica of Noah's Ark somewhere in Kentucky (where else?) And, second, guidence given to the faithful by Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia on when e sex within marriage is permissable, a feature of which is that remarried Caholics may cohabit, but only "like brothers and sisters."

    On the latter, one can only sypathize with the priests charged with enforcing such edicts.

    Tom Evans

    1. Tom -- I noticed both stories. I'd be reluctant to comment on the Ark, unless it was on the way to something else. Why underline the obvious? As for the Archbishop's rather quaint and tortured views on sex, I don't think that is worth my sticking my arm into his cage.

  6. You look like Stephen Spielberg, just younger.

  7. Enjoyed your anecdote about the girl in the café, Tom.


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