"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

John Adams:On Being Ugly (The Real Samantha Brick Story)

If you haven't seen the Samantha Brick article On Being Beautiful then you have been asleep at the web for the past 4 days.

If you didn't know that she is actually spoofing a 1789 Boston Globe article written by John Adam's called On Being Ugly, then you've been asleep at history for the past 223 years. As always, at Lost and Founders, we like to remind you of the Lost and forgotten history of the world. Please enjoy

On a recent carriage ride to Braintree, I was delighted when a passing vagrant came over and gave me a shilling. ‘This is from me’ he explained. Normally I rob people, but you are so ugly that I figured I should give you something.

You’re probably thinking, ‘what a lovely surprise, nobody wants to be robbed by a vagrant on the ride home, it wasn’t a surprise. At least, not for me.

Throughout my adult life, I’ve regularly had bottles of Madeira sent to my table by pub patrons, once a fellow Congressman even paid for my carriage ride to Philadelphia.

Another time, as I was walking through Boston’s Beacon Hill I was tapped on the shoulder and given some flowers on the condition that I hold them in front of my face. Even bar wenches shoo away from me when I try and present them with money at the mere thought of touching me.

And whenever I’ve asked what I’ve done to deserve such treatment, the donors of these gifts have always said the same thing: my appearance and balding hairline has made them want to have me leave their restaurant or travel with someone else.

I’m not tight panted George Washington, I’m short, stout and hedgehoggish, and so I’m often told, a portly-old fat man. I know how lucky I am to be fat, it means that I eat well and can provide for myself. But there are downsides to being old and fat – the main one being that other men hate me for my ability to attain private back room dining locations where no one is privy to my conversations.

If you’re a gentleman reading this, I’d hazard that you’ve already formed your own opinion about me – and it will probably raise your self-esteem. For while many back door exits have been opened (literally) as a result of my looks, just as many have been metaphorically slammed in my face – and usually by my own sex.

I’m not smug and certainly not a flirt, do you really think pick up lines would work with this receding hairline?. I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves. If their partners dared to look at me a sudden nausea would descent on the room.

And it is not just disgusted wives who have frozen me out of their lives. Secure males bosses have also barred me from promotions at work.

And most poignantly of all, not one dude-bro has ever asked me to be his best-man. Something about being shorter than the Maid of Honor. You’d think we men would help out each other for taking advantage of our appearances. I work at mine – I drink shit tons of beer from my brother Sammy and consume as much roast food as possible, I rarely pass a meal where I don’t succumb to goose pate. Unfortunately men find nothing more annoying than someone else being the most rich and ugly bad ass in the room.

Take last week, out gallivanting in the yard as a neighbor passed by on a horse. I waved – he blatantly blanket me. Yet this is someone whose sons have stayed at my house with little Quincy .

I approached a mutual friend and discreetly enquired if I’d made a faux pas. It seems the only crime I’ve committed is not leaving the house with a bag over my head as he becomes violently ill at the mere sight of my corpulent self.

And, according to our mutual friend, he is adamant that something could happen between his wife and me, ‘were the right circumstances in place.’ Yet I’m happily married and have stopped throwing the raging black out beer orgies where the beer and sex were free.

This isn’t that first time such paranoia has gripped the men around me. In my early 20s, when I first started experiencing early on set hair loss, one male boss in his late 30s would regularly invite me over for dinner after a long day in the office.

I always accepted his invitation, as during office hours we got along famously. But one evening her partner was at home. We were all a couple of glasses of Madeira into the evening. Then she and I said that we both liked Handel’s Watermusic.

He laid into her bewildered partner for ‘fancying’ me as a safer choice for a mate, then turned on me, calling me a fat, loquacious, corpulent, putrescent fur-ball before ridiculing me for not dying my hear and wearing make-up to cover my various lesions. I declined any further invitations.

Therapist Benjamin Franklin, author of the self-help guide 'Drink Beer: Forget Everything', says that men have always measured themselves with rulers.

‘Many of my clients are models, yet people are always astounded when I explain that use the same rulers that we all do.’ He says. If you measure up other men think you lead a perfect life – which you simply can’t determine because of thick woolen clothing.

‘They don’t realize that you are equally endowed by the creator.’

I certainly found that out the hard way, particularly in the office.

One contract I accepted was blighted by a jealous male boss. It was the height of summer and I’d opted to wear knee length knickers and frill-less dress shirts. They were modest, yet showed my explosive belly; more William Howard Taft than Abraham Lincoln if you will. But my boss pulled me into his office and informed me that my dress style was distracting to her female employees. The food crumbs that collected in my pants and the buttons that burst on my shirt seemed to distract our female secretaries. I didn’t dare point out that other men in the office were spilling food on themselves just like me.

Rather than argue, I worked out the rest of my contract wearing dark colors that hid food spills. It was clear that when you have a male boss, it’s best to let them shine. When you have a female boss, it’s a different game: I have written in the Globe on how I have threatened to flirt with people to get  ahead at work, something many men of my size and stature to do as scare tactics. Men, however, are far more problematic. With one phenomenally tricky boss, I eventually managed to carve out a positive working relationship. But a year in, his attitude towards me changed; the deterioration began when he started to put on weight and realized he would never rival my size and would always be judged to be less of a provider because of it.

We were both employed by a big printing company. One of our female UK chiefs recommended I take the company’s global leadership course, which meant doors would have opened for me around the world. All I needed were two personal recommendations to be eligible. As everyone in the office agreed I was good at my job, I didn’t think this would be a problem.

But while the female executive signed the paperwork without hesitation, my immediate boss refused to sign. When I asked his right-hand man why, he pulled me to one said and explain that my boss was jealous of my portliness.

Things between us rapidly deteriorated. Whenever I wore something worse he’d pooch out his belly in front of other colleagues showing that he was the star, not me.

Six months later I handed in my notice. Privately he begged me to stay, blaming the nasty comments on his lack of goose liver pate. He was in his early 40s and confided that he was having marital problems. But by then I’d had enough. I find that older men are the most hostile to fat young-un’s like me. Perhaps they feel their own sagging flesh and wish they could distend their bellies in the same way. Because my wife is ten years older than me, her social circle is that bit older too.

As an American, she takes great pride in hearing other men declare that I’m quite ugly and always tells me that she knows I couldn’t get another woman if I tried.

Yet I dread the inevitable snarky comments. ‘Here he comes. We’re in a peaceful little village and were about to experience an earthquake,’ was one I recently overheard. As a result I find dinner parties and social gatherings fraught and if I can’t wriggle out of the door, I often have to make sure and eat less for weeks in advance.

But even those ploys don’t always work. Take last summer and a birthday party I attended with my wife. At one point the host, who was celebrating her 50th, decided he wanted a photo with all the male guests. Positioning us, the photographer suggested I stand to the far outside right of the shot.

Another man I barely knew pushed me out of the frame, shouting that I would break the camera and it wasn’t fair to everyone that I would thus dominate the shot. I was devastated and burst into tears. On my own in the loo I ate 12 donuts as ol’ Tommy J snuck in some cold milk.

So now I’m 41 and probably one of very few men entering his fifth decade and welcoming the decline of my looks. I can’t wait for the wrinkles and the greys that will help earn me more private dining experiences and offers of wine to take my food home and eat in the auspices of my own dining room.

Perhaps then the brotherhood will finally stop judging me so harshly on what I look like and instead accept me for who I am.

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