In egalitarian America, land of self-made men and women, land of self-improvement and self-help, we operate under the assumption that everything—from faces to moods to places—can be fixed or made better
. Which, indeed, is often the case.
But not always.
Some things are interesting precisely because they are slightly off. Consider, if you will, some famous teeth—Lauren Hutton's
distinctive gap, Avril Lavigne's vampire fang, Mike Tyson's picturesque mouth thicket. Or think about some famously distinctive voices—Leonard Cohen's sexy rasp or Fran Drescher's bracing honk. These slight imperfections are, if not the basis of these folks' appeal, then at least strong contributors thereto; some of them should be accorded National Landmark status. Would you straighten the Tower of Pisa? Would you make dessert wine less sweet? Would you put a wide-screen TV in a fishing lodge? Had some deranged doctor deigned to alter the noses of either Gerard Depardieu or Barbra Streisand
early in their careers, I think we can all imagine the consequences: French cinema would be a lot less ooh-la-la, and Yentl
would be about a Waspy girl who wears suspenders so she can get a job at Shearson Lehman.
Some things, in other words, are best left alone. Or as the Beatles (a group that would have been so, well, yesterday, if Lennon and McCartney had made over their complicated relationship through therapy) put it: Let it be. One pitfall of makeover mania is that it's awfully easy to get carried away. For example, I give you (or, actually, I don't, and please don't give me) cheesecake-filled pancakes. Star Wars
-themed condoms. Bacon-flavored mayonnaise. Likewise, toy poodles and men's grooming. Yes, it is lovely when pet owners give their animals the odd bath and make sure that little Fido's fingernails don't occasion bloodshed; but after that, I'm good. No animal's lustrous curls should put us in mind of Louis the Sun King. As for those other creatures: I grant you, one of the last decade's great leaps forward has been the gradual retreat from public view of male nostril hair. But some men don't know when to stop. Forty-year-old definitely-not-virgins wax their chest hair. Special razors create, instead of eradicate, stubble. If I think toupees are a blight on the landscape, I'm sure you can just imagine how I feel about those men who actually suture their toupee onto their scalp. Apparently not everyone got the memo explaining that bald can be sexy. I mean, Bruce Willis and Stanley Tucci don't exactly have trouble getting dates, now, do they?
In some cases, we simply don't have the technology yet to complete a successful makeover. I get the concept of, say, colored contact lenses, but somebody's got to figure out how to do it right: Have you ever seen a brown-eyed person wearing blue contacts who didn't end up looking like something out of Village of the Damned
? And what can I say about those scarily omnipresent leaf blowers? I know they're an improvement over rakes but, oh, the decibel level. Here's hoping we'll one day have a blower that falls midway on the continuum between a broom and the space shuttle.