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In The Eyes Of This Beholder
by Andy Cowan
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Andy Cowan, an award-winning writer, whose credits include Cheers and Seinfeld, regularly contributes humor pieces to the Los Angeles Times and the CBS Jack FM Radio Network.

Having left my heart in my hometown of "ugly people" (as reported about Philadelphia by Travel & Leisure Magazine) for the "beautiful people" of Los Angeles decades ago, I dismiss this unfair slap in our collective faces, the ones evidently only our mothers could love. Grace Kelly was from Philadelphia. Need I say more? David Brenner. I'm somewhere in the middle.

One measure of beauty centers upon "symmetry," unless you happen to be talking about a Picasso painting. A plentiful supply of these non-Picasso picture-perfect types, whether homegrown or imported, can be found taking your lunch orders here, en route to their next gig - taking a director's orders. I've forgotten what it's like to live in a city where the waiters are struggling waiters.

Living in L.A., I sometimes wonder if too much beauty is a recipe for boredom and sensory overload. Witness our town's abundant supply of beautiful palm trees. I can't recall the last time someone exclaimed, "Hot tree!" Not that I don't love trees, which is why I feel guilty chopping one down to create the paper that goes into the business card I take to a bar and hand to a woman, who tosses it in the shredder.

When I first moved here, long before taking palm trees for granted, I loved standing underneath them and gazing up at their splendor. And then I heard... rats lived in them. And I stopped standing underneath them. Who wants a rat landing on your face? One of my earliest L.A. memories was spotting Judge Reinhold on a palm tree-lined street shooting a scene for his latest movie. It was a vicarious thrill. I thought to myself, one day I'll be like Judge Reinhold. And sure enough - he can't find work, either.

My guiltiest admission when it comes to living in sunny Southern California: I never leave my apartment. Since feeding my gas tank is becoming pricier than feeding me, I figure I might as well be stuck in one place at home, as opposed to stuck on our log-jammed freeways. When the traffic does move, it's unnerving to realize your fellow unseen humans encased in tons of steel are focusing equal attention on cell phones and plasma screen billboards. Toss in the fact that people are living longer, which also means there are more elderly drivers with questionable reflexes. The scary thing in L.A. - you can't tell they're elderly, because they've had work done. With the older population doubling in the next 15 years, isn't it time to at least make street signs legible, large and - how's this for a concept - lit at night?

It seems the only time people call me in L.A. is when they're trapped during a long commute. I become their On Star Advisor. They're not going anywhere. Might as well get the Andy call out of the way. He's gotta be home. I become stuck in traffic with them. Other than that, staying home has become too enticing. TV screens keep getting bigger. Movie screens keep getting smaller. Nobody's kicking the back of my couch. Coming soon to a theater near me? If it's not in my living room, it's not near enough. It's a user-friendly world indoors, and a user-hostile world outdoors.

E-mail spam is turning into my other main contact with the outside world. How do they know so much about me? "Andy - Want to Enlarge Your Ego?" "Andy, someone wants to date you!" What's with the exclamation point? I guess even they can't believe someone wants to date me. I click the URL and it takes me to "Looking for love? 3.5 million singles await your arrival!" I figure about half of these 3.5 million are the wrong sex. If one and three quarter million guys are awaiting my arrival, how beautiful can the women be?

Beautiful enough for Picasso.

Published: Mar 20,2012 23:12
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