Monday, March 19, 2012

Confessions of a Channel Surfer

I made a dire mistake one Monday evening a few weeks ago, a mistake that may haunt me for the rest of my life. After I got home from the gym, I turned on the TV as I did some stretching, not looking for anything in particular.  With the limited channel selection that basic cable offers, it didn't take me long to flip through the full lineup and start back at the top of the order.  On the second pass, I thought I spotted a familiar face and paused.

Was that Rafael Nadal? On ABC?  Tennis is never televised on a weeknight--not on network TV, anyway--and this guy wasn't playing tennis. He was hanging out with a bunch of annoying women.  Hoping to solve this little mystery, I spent a few minutes watching what I quickly discovered was a terrible, terrible show.  It didn't take long to figure out that this was not, in fact, Rafael Nadal--just a guy named Ben with an equally bad haircut and a similar, confused expression permanently plastered on his face. I didn't feel too bad about my mistake; the resemblance was uncanny:

But I cringed when I made my next discovery: I was watching The Bachelor!  How could it be?  Doesn't The Bachelor go out of it's way to track down a good-looking person to fill the namesake, starring role in the series each season?  How could the producers possibly find twenty or more women willing to sign up to try to marry this guy?  Maybe he's rich, or maybe it's just not that tough to find people willing to jump at the chance to get their faces on TV.  One thing was for sure: Ben was no handsome man.

My evening was an absolute disaster, knowing that from that moment forward, if anyone asks me if I've seen The Bachelor, I can no longer honestly answer, "No!"  Sure, I'll lie about it until the day I die, but what if I'm involved in a crime, have to take a polygraph test, and the authorities start asking some probing questions as they attempt to draw a conclusion about what kind of person I am?  I'm as good as dead--I'd probably send myself to the chair.  Now I have to spend my remaining days as a law-abiding citizen, all because of some seemingly innocent channel surfing.  But it's a burden I'll have to learn to live with...

My Ben/Rafael confusion got me thinking--does fame make people more attractive?  I certainly think so.  The ladies can't seem to get enough of Rafael Nadal.  When I was at the U.S. Open in 2009, the crowd noise was absolutely deafening when Nadal changed shirts between games.  Yeah, he's in great shape, but he just isn't very good looking.  Take away his status as one of the best tennis players in the world, take away the money and the fame, and he's just your average, run-of-the-mill goofy-looking, ripped guy.  If Nadal were a middle-class insurance adjuster, ladies would walk right right by without giving him a second glance.

I call this The Johnny Depp Effect, and it's a theory that I've been refining for several years. Take a good, hard look at this guy, and try to set aside the fact that he's an incredibly wealthy, world-famous actor.  What do you see?  If I didn't know any better, I'd think I was looking at a photo of a disheveled, filthy homeless man who just pulled his finger out of an electrical socket.  And the photo above is what Johnny looks like when he's dressed up for the red carpet. When he hasn't prettied himself for the camera, ain't pretty:

Yet somehow, once again, women can't seem to get enough.  The money and the fame have fooled everyone--this is not the face of a man deserving of People magazine's title of Sexiest Man Alive title.  Johnny Depp the actor has received that honor twice (most recently in 2009), but can you honestly tell me that Johnny Depp the actuary would ever be considered for an honor like this?  I think not.

It's a depressing realization, really--those who already enjoy the benefits of incredible athletic ability, fame, and fortune get a free pass in the looks department.  Without any effort, the "haves" quickly become the "have-even-mores."  I, on the other hand, am forced to make my way through life as a homely, average guy who must now also carry the shame and disgrace of being a one-time Bachelor viewer.

Note: I felt even more justified in my Ben identity confusion when, just a few days after my terrible mistake, I found the following image all over Facebook.  Apparently Ben has two dopplegangers: a world-class tennis player, and a female cartoon character from the PBS children's series Arthur.

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