Looks are everything. Don’t let anyone tell you different. If a slender red-headed female, with long curly hair, big blue eyes and a warm, friendly smile, stopped you for directions, what red-blooded, healthy male would rush by without stopping? Would this hold true if a short, plump senior lady stopped for directions? I hope so, but I would team with the skinny red-head for faster action.
Looks really are everything in some situations and let’s face it, certain images conjures up certain expectations. If a respectable male approached for directions who had that air of dignity, wore a dark suit and classy tie and looked like your mental image of a banker or corporate lawyer, then yes, I think I would stop and help. He may well be a terrorist or a mass murderer, but hey, I’m going on what I think is a picture of respectability. On the other hand, someone with a thin ferret face and squinty eyes, wearing a worn jogging outfit, with a suspicious smear of red on his sleeve—-will be the one I’d run from. After all, he looks like my mental image of an unsavory character ready to rob us or worse. It doesn’t matter that he’s probably the reputable lawyer on his day off, who had accidently brushed his sleeve in the ketchup. But, he would definitely be someone to run away from.
On a recent 90-minute ferry ride between Vancouver and Victoria BC, I had ample time to do my favorite past-time of “people-watching.” We are a very diverse group of humans and when you mix in cultural differences, it is a fascinating subject for “research.” I like to pick certain people who would make great characters in my forever-on-going book. I carry a small notebook in my coat pocket and jot down the details that initially caught my eye. One time, it was this brilliant plaid scarf—red, green and mauve colors—wrapped several times around the scrawny neck of a tall, gawky male, who carried a black cane with a falcon’s head carved in the top of the handle. Heading for the buffet lunch on the top deck, I was pleased to be seated next to the “scarf.” The owner had left his scarf and papers there to mark his seat.
Returning with my laden tray, the scarf was again securely wrapped around his owner’s neck as he perused his newspapers and enjoyed his buffet. Glancing over at my tray, he remarked, “Desserts are not good for you, especially macarons.” Beaming back at him, I replied, “The ferry’s macarons are fabulous and I love the way they do the chocolate trifle. But I did take a bit of that mish-mash stuff with the veggies and the chicken pasta with the cherry tomatoes.” I looked over at his tray. Yep, healthy. A generous helping of mixed greens, a large scoop of broccoli/cauliflower/ zucchini mix, a serving of the salmon in dill sauce, a heaping portion of the fresh fruit salad—no real dessert. Since I had 6 macarons on my side plate, I offered my neighbor one. “Thank you, but not for me. You do realize macarons are nothing but egg-whites and sugar. Probably white sugar which is very bad for you.”
I looked at him and asked, “Are you a food writer or a health-food expert?” He replied, “I have just been to Vancouver to discuss a book I have written called “Eating Badly.” Nodding that I was listening, I dived into the mish-mash veggie thing which was surprisingly tasty. I proceeded to mix the remains into my chicken pasta which made it even better. Then I poked out all the cherry tomatoes because it wasn’t acceptable to do this back at the buffet table. He watched fascinated but refrained from any comments.By this time, we were on first-names. His name was Kenneth, not Ken or Kenny, but “Kenneth.” Before I tackled my macarons, I offered again. “No, thank you,” and unabashedly watched me nibble my way through 2, then carefully placed the remaining 4 into my handy-dandy zip-locked bag. As he tackled his fruit salad, I dived into my chocolate trifle, which was superb.
I asked about his unique cane with the falcon’s head. Pleased, he told me that this was his grandfather’s cane. When Grandfather was a young boy, he had gotten lost in the woods surrounding his family’s estate. It was a falcon that had swooped down, circled around him and got him to follow. The search party found him just as he emerged from the woods. His father commissioned a wood-carver to craft an ebony cane with a carved falcon head’s head on the handle. The cane was passed to the first-born son in each generation. Kenneth had inherited it a decade ago.
Remember what I said at the beginning? Looks are everything. Well, I really must stop thinking that. My curiosity got the best of me with the colorful plaid scarf and the falcon head cane. The ferry trip was not a long one but for me, it had been a fascinating one. Before we docked, Kenneth confessed that not many people would carry on a conversation with him as he was often too blunt in his opinions. However, he felt comfortable with me since I ignored all his food opinions and carried on enjoying my selections. I shook his hand and wished him well with his book. Kenneth held my hand and wished me healthier choices at my next buffet.
I can hardly wait to take another ferry trip. . . . .