You’ve all seen it by now, I imagine. Singer Susan Boyle on Brit’s version of the Idol show. Susan bowled over the judges and the crowd. The New York Times tells the story in a piece that identifies Ms. Boyle as an “Unlikely Singer.”
I don’t have a problem with the article. It does what a story is supposed to do — tell the facts.
The problem for me lies in the headline.
I think the headline tells us more about ourselves than it does about Ms. Boyle.
I am assuming the reporter didn’t write the headline, as is most often the case. It’s usually slapped on by someone at the copy desk. The question is why did they consider Ms. Boyle an “unlikely singer”? Because, like the judges and the audience, they didn’t expect that a rather plain woman could sing?
Not that one’s ability to pluck one’s eyebrows has anything at all to do with one’s ability to hit a note, any note.
Mama always taught me that “Pretty is as Pretty does.”
Ms. Boyle proved that.
One of the most beautiful women in my memory was my Granny Leona. Her skin was so transparent you could see right through it to blue veins popping. She usually wore a hair net and a quilted housecoat in the winter and a floral cotton housedress in summer. I never once saw her put on her face in the mornings, though sometimes she would pop in her teeth if company was coming. Her shoes were that orthopedic sort, black leather with shoestrings. She never wore them out because she was crippled and spent most of her days in a wheelchair. She kept a snuff tin in her pocket and a wad of tissue to wipe up the spittle. She didn’t speak ill of people, not within my hearing anyway. I never heard her cuss or be ugly to anyone for any reason. And, trust me, she had plenty of reason. Sometimes I would hear her cry out the name of Jesus but it was a plea for help because she was in pain from her arthritis. There was no medical coverage. No means to alleviate her pain other than the tin of Bayer asprin she kept on her at all times and chewed up like they were homemade caramels.
I am sure to the casual observer my granny would be considered an “unlikely beauty.”
But they’d be wrong about that, too.
Maybe we ought to be identified as the “Unlikely Humans.”