Monday, December 28, 2009

Guess What? Looks Can Buy Happiness After All

This piece is in response to an article that appeared online at MSNBC.com, titled "Looks buy happiness, but only in the city" (Wed. Dec. 16, 2009, 8:31 a.n. CST). The article can be viewed at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34433979/ns/health-skin_and_beauty/


In a stunning reversal of public service announcements, motherly advice, spiritual admonitions, and the Christina Aguilera music video for the song "Beautiful," it would appear that in American cities, looks do matter after all, at least for women. This is, of course, tragic news for those of us who don't look like a supermodel, but exceedingly good news for Clairol, Cover Girl, and every other beauty supplier in the country. Well, at least the women of America can now do their part to stimulate the economy by buying products that make empty promises about how we'll look like Gisele Bundchen if we just smear enough of it onto our eyelids.

This revelation is the result of a study conducted by a visiting assistant professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, and it's a good thing she was just visiting. If she worked there permanently, I shudder to think what she might have discovered... I envision a study titled, "You're ugly, your mama was ugly, your daddy was ugly, and now you're ugly" about the role nature and nurture play in a woman's personal "hotness" factor.

As it is, the actual study examined women in the city and in the country (no mice were included, by the way, just human women), and it clearly revealed that in the city, looks matter more. Apparently, there's much more pressure in the city and much more competition for limited resources, such as "social acceptance." I didn't know social acceptance was a resource, but it's in short supply in our nation's cities, right up there with a dearth of dirt roads, cows, and manure. (I don't know what our cities can do about this tragic lack, but I'm sure another psychologist will study it at some point.)

Fortunately for ugly women across the United States, they have safe, comfortable places to ease their souls when their lack of attractiveness gets them down... locations far from the madding crowds, referred to the sticks. In these places far distant from those mean old cities, women can rest assured that no matter how hideous their appearance, they'll still look better than a cow, smell better than manure, and brighten up an empty dirt road. In the country, there is plenty of social acceptance to go around, a situation that I expect will last only until some American corporation can figure out how to bottle social acceptance, at which point they'll ship it to the cities where they can make more money for it, since it's so scarce there.

I'm so glad this study was done, because I've been living my life up until now under the impression that my looks are fine, and I can relax about it. Now I know the truth. I can't relax at all, and I can only move as close to the city as my looks in comparison to everyone else's will allow. Once I hit the land of bathing suit beauties over 5 feet 6 inches tall, I'll have to back off and settle down. I think that's somewhere in Indiana, but I'm not sure. I'll have to Google Earth it to be certain. And then, I'll have to move there.

Interestingly, this study examined neither men's appearances nor the suburbs. I, for one, can't wait to hear how much social acceptance is available for 40-year-old fathers in aprons and oven mitts hovered around gas grills in the suburban areas surrounding Boston, Massachusetts. My hunch is that their acceptance will be in exact proportion to how skilled they are at getting the burgers off the grill before they're burned. But I could be wrong about that. After all, I was wrong about how much my looks matter to a visiting psychologist at UCal Berkeley.

Stay tuned for my next installment, where I worry endlessly about the size of my thighs due to a study done by a visiting anthropology professor at the University of Arizona. (I'm just kidding...that study hasn't been done yet...but I bet it will be!)

Copyright 2009 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why I Deserve an A

The inspiration for this piece comes from two disparate sources: (1) President Barack Obama, who during a recent interview on Oprah, gave himself a B+ for his work so far as president and then explained the circumstances prevailing against him to keep his grade from being even higher; and (2) my experience teaching freshman composition at community colleges, during which time I've heard plenty of excuses, explanations, protests, and pleas from students who were convinced, for no reason whatsoever, that they deserved a higher grade than the grade I assigned them (the grade they had earned).

So with tongue in cheek, here's my version of Obama on grades...

Hi, Professor America. This is Barack, from your first-term class. I was hoping I could talk to you for a minute after class. It's about the B+ you gave me. I mean, no offense, but I really earned an A, you know.

Well, yeah, I know that my grade averages out to an 85. No, no, I can see it's generous to bump up an 85 to a B plus instead of just a B, but still... I should have earned an A in this class, and I deserve an A. It's not my fault that my grade-point average isn't higher.

First of all, there's that guy, George Bush.Yeah, sure, he graduated, like, over a whole year ago and all, but he's still messing up the freshman classes, and he's not even on campus anymore. The dude is a crazy legend, man... kind of like Ferris Bueller. You can't fight that kind of mojo!

And secondly, I totally would have done better in class if the Constitution had told me what was going to be on the test, but it didn't, which is totally unfair! I mean, no one can succeed on a test if no one tells them what to study, right? You could tell I read the Declaration of Independence, right? Why didn't you curve the grades for me?

And third, it's totally not my fault that the dog ate my homework. I mean, that almost never happens. Dogs usually only eat elementary school homework and they leave you alone by the time you get to high school. I think the last time a sitting president had his homework eaten by a dog was, like, Millard Fillmore...and that was so long ago. If I had known that was going to happen, I would have bought the kids a cat.

Anyway... Maybe you could give me an extra credit assignment? I'll work really hard on it, and get it in on time, I promise!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Twelve Days of Okie Christmas

Even though I have lived in Oklahoma for a mere five years, I have taken poetic license and extrapolated what I know of this great midwestern state in order to write a witty and thrilling rendition of a really long song that is Christmas season's version of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall"...something greatly needed at holiday time (long holiday songs, I mean, not beer). I have officially vetted these song lyrics with people who have lived in this state for far longer than I have, and they have all told me, "This pretty much covers it." As far as I'm concerned, that kind of proof is as good as a scientific study. (That's how professional I am about these kinds of things.)

With that brilliant introduction, I give you my song...

The Twelve Days of Okie Christmas
An homage to my adopted state of Oklahoma

To be sung to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas (in case this is somehow not obvious)

For my first Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my second Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     two Boomer Sooners and a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my third Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     three oil wells, two Boomer Sooners, and a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my fourth Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     four tornado shelters, three oil wells, two Boomer Sooners,
     and a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my fifth Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     five tickets to Bedlam...
     four tornado shelters, three oil wells, two Boomer Sooners,
     and a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my sixth Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     six gaping potholes, five tickets to Bedlam...
     four tornado shelters, three oil wells, two Boomer Sooners,
     and a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my seventh Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     seven Rooster Days, six gaping potholes, five tickets to Bedlam...
     four tornado shelters, three oil wells, two Boomer Sooners,
     and a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my eighth Okie Christmas,  my true love gave to me
     eight rodeos, seven Rooster Days, six gaping potholes,
     five tickets to Bedlam...
     four tornado shelters, three oil wells, two Boomer Sooners,
     and a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my ninth Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     nine Indian tacos, eight rodeos, seven Rooster Days,
     six gaping potholes, five tickets to Bedlam...
     four tornado shelters, three oil wells, two Boomer Sooners,
     and a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my tenth Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     ten Garth Brooks albums, nine Indian tacos,
     eight rodeos, seven Rooster Days, six gaping potholes,
     five tickets to Bedlam...
     four tornado shelters, three oil wells, two Boomer Sooners,
     and a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my eleventh Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     eleven Will Rogers saddles, ten Garth Brooks albums,
     nine Indian tacos, eight rodeos, seven Rooster Days,
     six gaping potholes, five tickets to Bedlam...
     four tornado shelters, three oil wells, two Boomer Sooners,
     and a picture of Pistol Pete.
For my twelfth Okie Christmas, my true love gave to me
     twelve trips to Sonic, eleven Will Rogers saddles,
     ten Garth Brooks albums, nine Indian tacos,
     eight rodeos, seven Rooster Days,
     six gaping potholes, five tickets to Bedlam...
     four tornado shelters, three oil wells, two Boomer Sooners,
     and a picture of Pistol Pete.

Legal disclaimer: This song is written totally in jest and is in no way intended to be an endorsement of or commentary about any Oklahoma college football teams or mascots, Oklahoma residents living or dead, recording artists, music preferences, horse-riding as a sport or hobby, energy sources, weather patterns, road conditions, dietary options, fast food restaurants, or true love.

Copyright (C) 2009 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.