Grandpa Leonard Does It Again
I was going to say this happened in the grocery store, but that’s not exactly honest. In truth, I was in the food aisle of the dollar store, and she had now crossed my path for the third time. She was young, perhaps in her mid-twenties, and quite attractive. I watched as she reached up for a box of something--I never knew what-- on the top shelf, wondering if she would be able to reach it. And if she couldn’t I was standing by, ready and able to use my no more than average height to aid this damsel in distress.
At first it looked like she was not going to need my chivalrous assistance, but then three boxes came tumbling down on her. I instinctively reached out to catch them, missed them all, but valiantly bent down to retrieve the boxes. I handed her one and returned the others to the top shelf.
By now the girl, slightly embarrassed, was laughing and apologizing. I laughed along with her, all the while thinking of something clever to say. Make it witty! I commanded myself. What I said was this:
“Boy, you’d never make it on The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Now, this was a pretty good line and I’ll explain why, because some of you younger men need to hear this. The natural instinct for many men is to rush in, filled with faux concern. Are you alright? they’ll fawn, even though she obviously is fine. Or they’ll move right in with a compliment. A pretty girl like you should have someone getting those things for you, or some such drivel.
My line was good because, and it would do you young fellows well to remember this, instead of gushing with compliments she was no doubt used to, and perhaps weary of, I gently teased her. I implied that she was clumsy. It’s a good approach, and in addition the comment itself was pretty slick for the spur of the moment.
Now, this is why it was a good line but not a great line, and I suspect you’ve already figured this out. Two seconds after I spoke I wanted to take back my words and do some quick editing. As mildly clever as my line was, I couldn’t help but sense that this fresh, young girl, decades my junior, was now thinking, Who the fuck is Ed Sullivan?
You see, it would have been a great line if this incident had taken place in, say, 1967, but sadly it did not. I later tortured myself by recognizing what a simple matter it would have been to replace The Ed Sullivan Show with perhaps a program that hadn’t been off the air since Nixon’s first term. I could have said, Boy, you’d never make it on America’s Got Talent, or even, I wouldn’t want to see that on YouTube. But no, I had to mention a guy who had already been long dead before she was even born.
Ah well, I thought, driving away consuming my dollar store Diet Coke and peanut butter-filled pretzels. I suppose it could have been even worse. I might have said, Boy, you’d never make it on Major Bowes.
One of these days I really must update my references.