imkittymyers at hotmail dot com
Thursday, August 04, 2005
MIZZ KITTY, WE HAVE A PROBLEM
First impressions can be killers. I saw a woman on a talk show once, back in the olden days when I actually watched such shows, who ran an experiment in a bar. She wanted to know how quickly men evaluated women and how quickly women evaluated men. It came as no surprise to women that men made ironclad determinations literally within a few seconds -- we're talking 3 to 7 seconds tops. Women weren't that much better, usually giving men double that amount of time. However, women did give men a second chance (no pun intended) if they felt he warrented one. Men's decisions were based solely upon physical appearance; no surprise there. They'd watch the women walk into the bar, and before she had the time to chose a seat, she had already been rated. Women were a bit more forgiving and actually talked to some men before deciding. There's a lot to quibble with here, but the point is that people make snap decisions, often involuntarily. It's human nature. It happens every single day and in every single field.
I read Miss Snark's blog; she's a literary agent. In order to get published these days, a writer must first find an agent, and in order to find an agent, the writer must query them first. It's exactly like finding a mate, which means, like dating, that that first impression is crucial. So, as a fabulous service, Miss Snark has been reviewing readers' query letters. Every agent is a bit different, making the job of impressing him/her a crap shoot at times. To give you an idea of what doesn't pass muster with Miss Snark:
1) I absolutely hate it with a passion when people say they want me to publish their novels. It makes me think they don't have a clue about who does what.
Is it small minded? Probably.
2) Miss Snark:
whoa. What happend to "Dear Miss Snark".. this isn't a letter from my draft board is it? Dear is like "how are you"...I don't really care (yes I do) but it's social nicety (I care a lot).
So what does any of that have to do with that poor preschooler with a mohawk? It's about being on both ends of first impressions. As I wrote yesterday, I had walked into Wegman's (supermarket) and noticed a little boy with a PINK mohawk. I literally stopped in the doorway and stared. That poor kid looks like trailer park trash. Did his parents ever duke it out on Jerry Springer? As I was staring, the PINK mohawk turned around, saw me and said, "Damma Kitty!" My heart sank as I realized that the PINK mohawk was my darling Little H, who is not quite 4 years old. It was only then that I noticed Nurse G and C.O. and R and L standing there talking.
!PLEASE NOTE!: That picture is NOT Little H.
Now, before any of you gulp in horror thinking you have offended me with your remarks, let me assure you that my first reaction, before I knew this was my grandson, was your reaction and then some. You have NOT, I repeat have NOT, offended me.
My heart sank, and I do mean SANK, when I saw H. He has -- had -- the most gorgeous curly dark blonde hair, and now it was ruined. It's just hair. It will grow back. That's what Nurse G and C.O. kept repeating, with Little H parroting them like an echo. Little H had seen some of the neighborhood kids with mohawks ... his parents call their neighborhood Crack Alley and for good reason ... and he wanted one, too. They decided, Why not? So they gave him the mohawk and dyed it PINK (pardon me, Cherry Something-or-other) themselves, which was another problem; it looked homemade. (Nurse G claims a hairdresser could not have done better since H wiggled around so much.)
Yesterday, Nurse G, H and I went to see my mother. The subject never arose until Little H, sitting in his carseat in the back, asked me why I didn't like his hair.
People usually notice you because you have a big smile and gorgeous blue eyes. When you laugh they laugh along with you. Now all they'll see is your hair and laugh at you. They won't see your big smile. Instead they'll see your hair and I don't want them to laugh at you.
In typical nearly-4-yr-old fashion, he replied, "No they won't."
Do you like your hair?
Then that's all that counts.
Grandma's reaction was a typical octogenarian’s: "I've seen it all before." But I did notice other people doing double takes and registering not amusement but subtle shock. One grey-haired woman approached us, while we were waiting in line at a cash register, and actually asked Little H a rather snotty question about his hair. He smiled right back at her.
The PINK mohawk didn't seem to affect him at all; he was still the Little H I love so dearly, except now he thinks his hair is cool. Nurse G and I joked about it by midday. What else could you do? I really don't know why she and C.O. (a corrections officer) would give their beloved little boy that haircut (AND dye job), both of whom are conservative people. By the end of the day, I, too, had accepted it. Besides, it's just hair and it will grow out. It did remind me, however, that while first impressions are important, they're not always correct.
Now, if agents and publishers could just see it that way ...