Monday, March 5, 2018

"Exceptions Can Be Exceptionally Annoying - A Pessimist's Perspective"

Carol Burnett had a recessive chin.  But she was prodigiously talented.

Jimmy Durante had a gigantic schnozolla.   But when he sang, “Fairy tales can come true…” you really felt it could happen to you. 

“If you’re young… at heart…”

Danny DeVito was short on “Tall.”  Did it inhibit his career?  Not so’s you’d notice.  Peter Dinklage.  A different variety of “Short”, but so what?  That guy’s kickin’ butt!  (Or, at least, upper thigh.)

There was even a guy with my less-than-coordinated “eye thing.”  Jack Elam.  Made a boatload of westerns.  Even guested on an episode of Phyllis I wrote.  Jack Elam did all right.  Florence Henderson did even better.  I ran into her once.  The woman “went on” about “eye stuff.”  I just wanted her to stop talking.

What am I saying with these examples?

You gotta have hope? 

If they can, you can?

Mathematically, that’s true.  But realistically – shunting “mathematically” to the periphery where it belongs –

Can you?

Staying “close to home”…

The odds of becoming a recognized movie star are astronomical.  The odds of succeeding without demonstrable “movie star” attributes

Is there a word meaning “bigger than astronomical”?  Or do you just throw an “exponentially more” before “astronomical”, denoting a “Planet of Possibility” so far in the distance you’d get there faster flying down rather than up – if that makes sense which it probably doesn’t – and it would still take “Don’t even bother” to get there.

And yet…

Some annoying nuisance went to the moon.

“Hope” says, “It can happen.”  A ray of encouraging sunshine?  Sure.  But also a burdening difficulty, “hope” functioning in both possible directions.

Consider the more-likely-than-not procedural operation:

“It can’t be done.”

Then somebody does it.

Then it’s, “If they can, I can.”

You try to do it, and can’t.

Suddenly, you’re a “Failure.”

Forgetting entirely how near impossible it was to pull off in the first place.

Do you see what that “anomaly” started?  You took a one-in-a-million shot and, though you intellectually know better, you feel like a loser.

There is a reason they call things “exceptions.”  It’s because they are rarely, bordering on never, accomplished.  “Rarely” being the operant instigator. 

If those things never happened, you’d go, “I get it.  You can’t be a movie star if you don’t have a face”, a factual certainty, leading to “comfortable acceptance.” 

But wouldn’t you know it?  They make a movie, “The Man With No Face”, and suddenly,

There’s hope.

“Maybe they’ll do a sequel.  And the original guy won’t be available, or, somehow, his face grows back.”


You’re betting the proverbial farm – and your personal happiness – on that?

I once cast a guy in a pilot I wrote who looked exactly like Michael Keaton.  The man took serious encouragement from that remarkable similarity, believing, “If he can, I, who look exactly like him, can too.”

The thing is, he couldn’t.  (I never saw him in anything after my pilot.)  Why?  Because they needed one “Michael Keaton”, and Michael Keaton got there ahead of him.   

I have confined myself to issues of “looks.”  (The generating idea for this post came to me, sitting in a restaurant, watching a woman at a nearby table, clearly a movie star, although I had no idea who she was but I knew she was a movie stars because of her classic “movie star” looks, her impeccably groomed children and her “entitled customer” demeanor, and also because of the way her waitress, a wannabe actress – because all wait-people in Los Angeles are – sitting at the “Carol Burnett” end of the “Looks” continuum, fluttered manically around her, thinking to herself, “Look how close I am”, and I’m thinking, “Look at her, and look at yourself.  Are you truly really that close?”)  (That may be mean, but I thought it merited inclusion.  I mean, I couldn’t get her to refill my water glass.) 

“The Exception Deception” works everywhere.  You believe it doesn’t – a man five-foot-six encounters a six-ten basketball star and it’s like, “Well, that’s that.”  Then they remember that “Muggsy” Bogues, five-foot-three, had a respectable 14-year career in the pros.  And it’s like…



“Maybe I can.”


“But I’m three inches taller than “Muggsy B…”


So what am I saying?  Don’t try?

I wouldn’t.


And yet I did.  Shocking the world – and myself – by doing okay.

Oh, no. 

I guess I’m one of those terrible “hope givers.”


Sorry. *

(* Remember, this is a pessimist talking.)

1 comment:

Fred from Scarborough said...

.... and anyone can grow up to be president. Anyone!