"I just believe that most people are basically good at heart," said the woman who was presently sharing her ideas about how to get along in the world, "and that if you're friendly, people are friendly back. You just have to put out positivity, and things work out."
What I was hearing was fairly foreign to me, as my own experiences with members of the human race had, to say the least, led to somewhat different conclusions. Just as I was about to look within and ask myself whether I'd simply been projecting a negative attitude (can you imagine—me?), I noted a far more obvious reason for the differences in our experiences. Oh yes, I get it now. The "philosopher" in question was gorgeous. There she sat (in this spontaneous group discussion that had popped up at a local coffee house, where such things happen), with her perfect figure, her flowing blonde tresses, her flawless skin, her magnetic sex appeal, and her vast twenty-something years of studying human nature, sharing her findings. No wonder people were always nice to her. She was fun to look at. And yet, rather than consider that as a possible reason for the treatment she consistently received, she'd concluded instead that she'd happened upon a universal truth that the rest of us had somehow missed. Now she was going to teach us. If she hadn't been so pretty, I might have smacked her in the head.
But that's the point, you see? You don't want to smack the pretty person in the head. Well . . . not at first, anyway. You want to look at her. You want her to pay attention to you. You want to be in her world. When she's friendly to you, you light up like a baby with a new shiny object. If you're a hetero male, maybe you think there's a remote possibility she's into you; maybe you even have chance with this creature. If you're an average-looking female, kindness from such a goddess might make you feel like you've been sponsored for membership in the Extra Extra Ridiculously Pretty Club. An impossibly handsome man will inspire much the same reaction. Whoever you are, unless you're in competition, there's incentive to be friendly and helpful, and to give a lovely looking individual your full attention.
One of the ugliest qualities that humans possess is our deeply hidden repulsion toward the physically unattractive.
We don't want look at them. We don't seek out conversations. The worst of us may even get angry at them for looking less than perfect. (Victor Hugo wrote a whole book about that.) Prettiness, conversely, makes us happy. It makes us feel good. We want to be around it. And that's why a supermodel asking for directions at a gas station will get a very different reception than would your average lost motorist.
For the majority of us—we who are not blessed with superhumanly good looks—our attempts to interact with others can be met with different sorts of reactions. Some people will be open to conversation; some won't. Some will be suspicious as we approach; some, all too happy to make our acquaintance. Try to start a friendly conversation with your row mate on an airplane and there's about a 50/50 chance he or she will be up for talking. No matter how much positivity we pump out, it's going to be more or less a toss-up.
But the odds change considerably if you're a looker. Everyone wants to talk to the looker. Being a looker is like having a cute puppy. You can make all the friends you want. So for a stunning person to tell us how easy it is to get along with everyone is akin an extremely tall person telling us how easy it is to reach things ("You just have to believe in yourself."), or an operatic soprano telling us how easy it is to sing a high C ("Just picture the note."), or a weight lifter telling us how easy it is to lift 200 pounds ("What are you, a wuss or something?"). You can all take a flying leap.
Physical beauty is a status symbol. And with it comes responsibility. If you're stunning, the Curmudgeon believes it's your obligation to know it, and to acknowledge that it's a likely reason why people are so gosh-darned nice to you all the time. It's not that humans are all good at heart. It's not that we just have to be friendly to everyone and they'll be friendly back. And it's not that people are naturally helpful. It's your looks. And before you enlighten the rest of us, Mahatma, do the math. I'm in utter ecstasy for you, knowing that you're having such pleasant encounters, Mr. Chiselcheeks, Ms. Barbiebod, but you're really in no position to tell the rest of us about universal truths; your experiences aren't universal. So by all means, count your blessings, use what you've got, and enjoy the kindness and consideration your looks inspire. But say one damned word about how the rest of us—the normal looking—are doing it wrong, and I'm going to punch you right in your adorably perfect nose.