Sunday, February 20, 2011

My grandma thinks I'm handsome.

My grandma thinks I'm handsome. She tells me often.

But she can't just give me a compliment. I have low self esteem, and don't believe compliments. So she's kind enough to convince me.

"You are so handsome," she insists. "You are so handsome, you couldn't even hide it with all the ugly haircuts you've had."

'Ugly haircuts?' I have no idea what she's talking about.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I found a Republican barber shop. There were gun magazines in the waiting area, sailfish mounted on the walls, and mustaches on the barbers.

With their help, I looked a lot better.

Or anyway, my hair looked a lot better.

Why, yes, Johnny, I am wearing Nelson Rockeller's wig.

My grandma liked this new haircut. You'd think this would be a turning point for her compliments. In a way, it was.

Oh, she still said that my ugly hair couldn't distract from my good looks...but now, her voice was tinged with nostalgia.

The subtext was, "Okay, so you have a nice haircut, but now you're just some handsome guy who has alienating opinions about movies. At least the ugly hair made me pity you."

But apart from occasional ego boosts like these, the matter was settled. Between my hairline and the nape of my neck, I looked like John Boehner. The days of ugly haircuts faded into mythology.

And last week, my lovely, wonderful, supportive grandma gave me an early birthday present. See if you can spot it in this picture.

It's subtle.

Maybe she remembered my love for the Sound of Music, and made me a shirt out of wallpaper.

Maybe she thought I'd attract more women if I looked like a Vera Bradley purse.

But maybe, just maybe, she was worried that my winning features have gone unchallenged for too long.

After all, I never could take a compliment.