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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Facing the future, the mirror and my clone

I've never considered myself a handsome man. In fact, quite the opposite thought occurs to me most mornings while looking in the mirror.

Especially now, as I slide into my 35th birthday on New Year's Eve like Charlie Hustle diving for third base - head-first.

My once thick, curly hair has retreated to a Phil Collins' tuft with slight grey at the temples. It's an unintentional mohawk of sorts on an aging punk rock fan. And the forehead's big enough for a "This space for rent" sign.

My nose has always been too long and broad. It's also bent slightly downward at the bridge (thanks to a genetic gift from my grandfather and a few well-placed fists in my youth). My cheeks became puffy when I packed on the freshman 15 and then kept the scale soaring upward. Dark bags beneath my squinty eyes often turn me into a droogie raccoon.

I'm getting old, well, older at least. Yet, I still get the occasional nasty pimple in the most visible of places - and usually at the worst of times - just like I did when I was 16.

A Van Dyke, goatee or beard has hid the worst of them since I was 23 and has helped to even out my face. Some days, though, I think about growing it to ZZ Top-length and then comb it up like Cousin It Addams

Girlfriends have thought me self-conscious, a victim of the idea of beauty Hollywood and advertisers have sold us all. I think of it as an honest self-assessment.

But I also choose to believe inner beauty more than makes up for what some might consider plain looks.

Not that I'm complaining. I'm not vain enough for toupeeshair transplants or plastic surgery. And most days I barely have time to eat, let alone workout, despite repeated invitations from my brother, who happens to be a tri-athlete. (If it wasn't for his nose and hairline, I'd swear he was adopted.)

It was he, who e-mailed me recently about hotornot.com. He called it addicting.

Send in my clones?
No thanks. I've seen "Star Wars" and "The Boys From Brazil." I know how this movie ends.

This Web site - run out of a living room by two guys named Jim and James - lets users post their own pictures anonymously. Other users then vote using a scale of 1 (Not) to 10 (Hot) and the vote totals are averaged into a final score. The site's database prevents anyone from stuffing their own ballot box.

There's no cost to vote. But you have to register to post a picture. The site makes its money from banner ads and by charging users $5.95 a month so they can e-mail anyone interested in meeting them.

Call it a birthday lark, but I couldn't resist submitting my column picture Saturday for public consumption.

By midnight Monday, 40 users rated me an average of 9.1.*

I find it intriguing that forty folks I don't know see me differently than I do myself, though, it doesn't change my opinion.

And while I have not yet gone down the aisle with anyone, I won't be e-mailing the RaŽlians at Clonaid any time soon asking for an extra copy of myself.

But maybe, just maybe, when I get up this morning, I'll go to the gym.

Have a healthy and a happy New Year.

*DISCLAIMER: By the time you read this, I expect my average will be lower. Much lower. Although I didn't ask any friends to vote for me, feel free to weigh in and cast your vote.

One final thought, if the RaŽlians got in a fight with the Scientologists, who would win?

December 30, 2002 

Dave Ralis' Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays.