The Eye of the Beholder

July 11, 2003

The other night I was watching a television show about plastic surgery, and all the insane things people do to make themselves look better. One guy – I’m not making this up – had silicone implants inserted into the calves of his legs. Now, silicone implants aren’t anything new. Silicon Valley may be in San Francisco, but if it were to dry up Hollywood could supply the computer industry for at least another two hundred years.

But why put implants in the calves of your legs? Men are obviously superficial – the very invention of implants shows that – but how many women look at a guy and say, "Well, I’d never date a guy with such skinny calves"? By the way, at the end of the program, when they did a follow-up months later, the guy was still single. I’m just guessing, but his stated belief that he was a "total package" and any woman would be lucky to have him might have had something to do with this.

But I digress. Silicon implants, of course, pale in comparison with the new trend of people having botulinus toxin (cleverly renamed "botox", which sounds so much more appealing) injected into their faces to reduce wrinkles. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but believing that botox is good for you must be in the eye of the boneheaded. I’m actually starting to long for the not-so-long-ago days when tattoos went from being the exclusive province of bikers and high school janitors to being hip. Now tattoos have become passe, and so have piercings – although with those it was only a matter of time. Once you’ve pierced your ears, nose, tongue, lip, and eyelid, the only place to go is down, and that understandably only appealed to a limited clientele who weren’t afraid of being arrested for indecent exposure every time they wanted to show off their latest piece of jewelry.

People have so much stuff sucked out of their bodies only to have other stuff put back in that it’s enough to make you wonder if anybody’s real anymore. I briefly thought this was a modern trend, but then I remembered all those classes I had in school called "social studies", but which should have been called "let’s make fun of other people who are different". South American tribal men put big plates in their lips, apparently because South American tribal women believe you can tell a lot about a man by the size of his lower lip. Some Burmese women extend their necks with brass rings.

The forms of modification – to put it politely – go on and on, but I’ll stop now in case you’re eating right now. I can’t begin to explain why we do this to ourselves, or why we’ve apparently been doing it in one form or another for millenia. Maybe one person started doing it and everyone else went along. After all, Liszt’s students tried to grow hair on their faces to mimic their master’s warts. If he were alive today, his students would get facial implants. Or maybe they’d realize how hard it is to pronounce "Liszt", and say, "Forget this, let’s go down to the bar, pick up some girls, and get Bizet."

One thing’s never changed: beauty’s not in the eye, it’s in the brain of the beholder, and in a complex society you don’t necessarily have to have bigger calves or a nine-pound piece of carved acacia through your scrotum. If you’re the type who thinks anyone else would be lucky to be with you, it’s your personality that needs radical alteration.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."

3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

5. You should not confuse your career with your life.

6. Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

7. Never lick a steak knife.

8. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.

9. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.

10. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.

11. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above-average drivers.

12. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)

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