When I was growing up, cuteness was something one hoped for in a girl and something one hoped to avoid as a guy, even if you gave off cute vibes. Harpers Bizarre, a much-underrated band who got their biggest hit off a Paul Simon LP cut ("The 59th Street Bridge Song" aka "Feelin' Groovy", 1967) apparently gave off such vibes in spite of themselves, which presumably prompted this incident, as described by Warner Bros. wheel Stan Cornyn on the liner notes of their second album:

During September, visitors to producer Lenny Waronker's office at Warner Bros. Records saw a pencil-printed sign hung under the cover of the first Harpers album, which was stuck up on his wall. The sign, stuck by Ted [Templeman] and Dick [Scoppettone], the shorters (5'8") of the group, read:


This sentiment persists today on the band's MySpace page. And that second album Anything Goes (Warner Bros. 1716), after the Cole Porter song is calculated to distract your ears from the indisputably-cute vocal harmonies long enough to make you listen to the actual words, either up-to-the-minute (Randy Newman's "The Biggest Night of Her Life") or older than God (the Glenn Miller turnip "Chattanooga Choo Choo"). The album produced two just-below-Top 40 singles, and arguably demonstrated to those who needed to slow down, they moved too fast, that the Harpers were indeed Not Cute.

And this seemed a good banner for me to enlist under, since I was already persuaded of my own lack of looks; a bit of under-the-surface complexity was just what I needed, I decided, to get myself through my apparently-inevitable sojourn on the Island of Misfit Teenagers. "If they won't look my way," I reasoned, "perhaps they'll listen to me."

This approach did not work especially well, but I stuck with it, mostly because I didn't have much of a Plan B beyond going to my room and weeping, which struck me as largely counterproductive, not to mention embarrassing. Not that I've gained any particular insight into The Mind Of Woman, although this piece by Amy Alkon seems relevant:

Men's looks matter to heterosexual women only somewhat. Most women prefer men who are taller than they are, with symmetrical features (a sign that a potential partner is healthy and parasite-free). But, women across cultures are intent on finding male partners with high status, power, and access to resources which means a really short guy can add maybe a foot to his height with a private jet. And, just like women who aren't very attractive, men who make very little money or are chronically out of work tend to have a really hard time finding partners. There is some male grumbling about this. Yet, while feminist journalists deforest North America publishing articles urging women to bow out of the beauty arms race and "Learn to love that woman in the mirror!", nobody gets into the ridiculous position of advising men to "Learn to love that unemployed guy sprawled on the couch!"

Then again, unemployed guys sprawled on the couch, even if they're actually cute, don't particularly seem so, especially if it's your couch.

I take heart from my symmetrical features. (A sphere has symmetry, doesn't it?) And I suppose that a few extra pounds, in the sense that the Biltmore has a few extra rooms, have helped, to the extent that they've made the wrinkles of age a bit harder to detect without having to resort to toxic injections. Still, not looking as awful as I could is not much of a recommendation, whether or not it meets the criteria for Not Cute.

The Vent

  8 November 2010

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 Copyright © 2010 by Charles G. Hill