Feb 11/12


I've very little poise. It's just not something I've cultivated. When I was a kid, I remember learning that poise was something bluebloods were supposed to have. Of course, I wasn't one of those, so I saw poise as irrelevant. I happened to be very good in school, where poise, of course, didn't help at all. So I came to see poise as kind of like an expensive sports car or manicured hedges: nice for some people, but not important for me. That was when I lived in the Canadian Maritimes.

Two things happened in my late teens: I got out of school and moved to the West Coast. Though I didn't realize at the time, poise is much more important out here. Not just bluebloods, but everyone, is expected to have at least some. I didn't understand why getting a job was so hard for me, but I realize now that was the reason.

A few years back, when the issue of poise was finally dawning on me, I decided to make an experiment. I got my wife to pick out some "stylish" clothes for me. They included a belt, even though the new jeans fit fine without it - and also a watch, which I never wore and still don't. Then, I even went and got a "nice" hair cut. To ice the cake, I bought some gel and even got schooled in how to use it!

Wearing my new clothes and hair, I went on with my life. A dramatic difference developed: people smiled at me as they passed, and even held the door open for me sometimes. (Events that had never happened before.) I couldn't believe it.

A week into the experiment, I wrote up my conclusion, filed it, and went back to my normal, dishevelled appearance. A kid had warned me:

People will treat you differently - not because it's you, but just because of your image. They won't want to hear what you have to say; they'll just want to look at you. Pretty pictures don't talk.

Never a truer word was spoke.

Because I have my own business, I don't have to look good like I would if I had a job. I know I'd be more popular if I was more poised - and probably richer. Why, then, don't I just suck it up and become a model like everybody else?

Here's the problem with poise: it takes effort. Doing your hair takes time. If you want your clothes to look nice, you might have to press them. You have to keep buying new clothes to stay current. Then, you have to throw your old ones out, even if really, they were still wearable. It all costs time and/or money.

I think really, maintaining poise is a waste of time, and here's why: it doesn't produce anything. Take a writer, for instance. If they spend an hour in front of the mirror getting their hair perfect, then another half hour donning a perfect outfit before sitting down to the computer, will the book they're writing be any better? Will my sketches turn out any better if I'm wearing a nice watch? Will your mechanic fix your car better if he wears a suit and tie?

Well, here's someone who's the total opposite of me: Anderson Cooper. When I first saw him on CNN (some years ago now), I instantly perceived he was a different kind of news man. People love him - because of his poise. He gets the facts and he's been in war zones all over the world - but I don't think that's why viewers are captivated by him. It's because his suits are always perfect, his hair is always perfect, and his behaviour is always perfect. Then again, he is a blue blood: he's a Vanderbilt.

Looking good, Anderson - you always do.

Wikipedia was a source for this article.

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