Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When looking good is no good

A few weeks ago I met an Indian barber who used to cut my hair twenty over years ago. His barber stall was situated under a big tree in Jalan Temiang, Seremban. The big tree had been felled and his barber stall had been demolished to make way for developments. He said I still looked the same as twenty years ago because I am among a few people who are blessed with a baby face.

About two years ago me and my wife went to Kuala Terengganu. I was swimming in the hotel pool with a bunch of kids when suddenly I had the urge to dive from an artificial waterfall. At the top I hesitated just like Mr. Bean. Suddenly a boy shouted "terjung (terjun) (jump) bang". A kid called me brother! Well, nobody has told me that I look ugly or bad. But having good looks have its drawbacks too.

A few years ago I attended a job promotion interview. Beside me there was only one more candidate. I did not get the promotion, my adversary got it. I found out later that my adversary was preferred instead of me because every body thought that he was older than me when in fact it was the other way round. Even my immediate boss was fooled. Realising his mistake he prepared a working paper for the department to create one more post meant for me. But since creations of new posts had to be approved the Public Services Department by the time the extra post was approved I had retired. Nevertheless I am happy that there are now two top posts in my department.

I remember somewhere around that time when I and this adversary were in the office lift with one of our Technical Assistants (TA) and a young boy of about ten years old. I wondered what the boy was doing in the office. The TA who is much younger that both of us chided the boy for not wishing elders like us. He told the boy to call him abang for elder brother. Then pointing to me he said I should be called pak cik or uncle. Lastly pointing to my adversary he said this man should be called atuk or grandfather. Little did the TA and the boy know that the grandfather was in fact younger than the uncle.

What is common between Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas? They are top film directors who directed top movies when they were very young. Coppola directed The Godfather Trilogy, Spielberg directed Jaws and the India Jones Trilogy while Lucas the Star Wars films. To earn respect from the actors and the rest of their film crews they grew beards to make them look older. To prove the point Coppola recruited Marlon Brando to act as The Godfather when the film producers were against the idea knowing Brando was a hard to work with actor. But Coppola managed to control Brando well and Brando won the Best Actor Acdemy award. Later Coppola recruited Brando again for Apocalypse Now and this time Brando showed his true colours and gave Coppola a hard time. Maybe Brando realised that Coppola was not as old as he looked.

As you can see looking younger than you really are sometimes does not pay. My problem is I don't know how to lie, for good or for bad. That's why I don't join politics because all politicians are liars.

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