Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Stud: A short-short story about the ill-effects of being good-looking

From the beginning, he reaped the benefits of his attractive face: “What a cute baby!” Although average in intelligence and personality, from kindergarten on, he was ever in the “in” group. When hormones kicked in, the benefit grew. Without effort, girls would twirl their hair, tilt their head, and hold out their budding breasts.

In interviews for college, his interviewers fell prey to the well-documented bias toward good-looking people and he was admitted to surprisingly august institutions—with a bigger discount (colleges prefer to call it “scholarship”) from the inflated sticker price.

His unearned interviewing edge extended to job interviews. Before even graduating from college, he got three offers for well-paying sales positions—Alas, we are more likely to buy from a Pretty Person. One offer was in pharma sales. His job would be to convince doctors to prescribe more of the company’s drugs. Another was to sell enterprise suites: complicated software the purpose of which is to get more customers to part from their money. The third offer was to sell medical devices. Because they require shorter time than do drugs to get FDA approval and the profit margins are eye-opening, many entrepreneurs wanting to capitalize on the aging Boomers, develop devices.

He accepted the medical-device job because it had the highest income potential, even though he was to sell only to SMBs. (Our ever longer entitles, emblematic of our ever more complex society, encourages more abbreviations. In this case, Small to Medium-Sized Businesses distilled to SMBs.)
Now, he could woo women not just with his pretty face but with a luxury-affording income. So he received myriad expressions of romantic interest, subtle and otherwise. For example, there was the FedEx box from a stranger. When he opened it, a card lay atop the tissue paper that concealed its contents. It read, “Love Kit.” He pulled back the tissue and there was a sexy nightgown. Beneath that was an 8x10 of an alluring woman wearing it. Beneath was her phone number.

Through his 30s, his looks kept aloft his lifestyle of luxury and women despite his otherwise unexceptional self.

But time waits for no one and as his face aged, his 40s saw a decline in sales and romantic interest. For example, in earlier years, in walking down the street, beautiful women who were staring ahead to avoid unwanted attention, would often bore into his eyes with a melting smile. Now, the women stay eyes-front  He had become invisible.

Having been able to skate on his luxuriant hair and symmetrical features, he had made little effort to develop himself. So his personality and sales skills remained in arrested development. Consistent with a person who had always tried to buy his way into happiness, he deliberated between a facelift and investing in psychotherapy and an MBA in marketing. Natch, he chose the facelift.


Anonymous said...

The links to this article and the 12/25 article don't work.

Marty Nemko said...

Alas, Psychology Today decided to depublish them.