I’m colorblind in about three colors. I can’t tell pink from orange and green is confusing to me. You can take an orange golf ball and lay it on green grass and it just disappears. That’s the reason that my wife won’t let me decorate cakes or cookies at our store.
Why am I telling you this? I hope that it explains that I see this “looking good syndrome” in myself as well as in other people. In 1969, my freshman year in college, the big thing was to have your socks and shirt match. While at college I had no one to help me select clothes, so I had to outfit myself. Since I wanted to be fashionable, of course my shirt and my socks had to match. One outfit that I chose involved a hot pink shirt and a pair of orange socks. I put this combination together all by myself and I wore it more than once. Then when I put them on with pair green pants I would look in the mirror and truly thought man “you are looking good today.”
Now as I become a little older, one of my favorite activities is to people watch. Wherever I go I look at people and make these wonderful guesses about who they are and what they’re up to. I don’t do this judgmentally, it just a game that I play in my mind. Since I now own a cookie store and work mostly at night, it is really easy to sit back and just watch the families as they come in to buy some cookies and to make mental pictures. There is the soldier who is home from duty taking his baby girl out or there’s a harried mom with the neighbor’s kids and I have these visions of what their lives may be like– it’s just something that I do.
Well over the years I’ve come to make, and this is truly judgmental, a mental picture of the looking good people. You have all seen the girl with the oversized chest wearing a black bra in a see-through blouse, pants that are too tight and way too much makeup and you know that as bad as that outfit looks to you, when she put it on and stood in front of the mirror she said to herself “looking good today.”
There are the Emo kids with all the tattoos and the various and sundry piercings who do this on purpose to shock people, but you know at some point they stood in front of the mirror, looked at their outfit and said “looking good today.” Most of the time I don’t think people dress to shock anyone, but because they truly think that what they have on looks good on them. This phenomenon knows no boundaries or class distinctions. I have been to parties where someone will show up in a dress that you know cost $5000 and you wonder “why would she put that on?” You also know that when she bought it and walked out of the shop the entire staff had a good laugh.
Now, I know the humiliation of looking good when you really don’t. I have looked at old pictures of myself and wondered ‘what in the Lord’s name was I thinking? This is not a pleasant experience but it has brought me to an understanding about some of my more famous foul-ups. All of us at one time or another have said or done something so incredibly stupid or hurtful when we were trying to do something good. Is this same syndrome? Is it this dreaded “looking good today” syndrome? Yet when someone hurts us or embarrasses us we feel so wronged that we want to hurt back. I think that every time somebody does something stupid, we should just slow down our response long enough to ask we, “is this done in a hateful way or did they really think they were doing something good?” Sometimes it is hateful, but I am willing to bet that most of the time it’s an attempt to do something they thought was good or at least good for you.
In today’s political climate I have lots of good friends who don’t agree with the way I think. Very recently one of my longtime friends got angry at me for belittling his choice of a candidate. It happens all the time and I think that the best way to approach this is to remember that when you see that overweight boy with the orange socks, the green pants and a hot pink shirt …think of me and remember when I put them on I was totally convinced that I was “looking good today.” Tolerance is a virtue but it takes a lot of work, especially when you’re dealing with other people’s feelings. So no matter what you think… take a breath before you react. After all not all of us are going to be “looking good” every day.
Check out Henry Meeks’ blog at someofitsmagic.com