“You Look Thinner In Real Life”

by Jamison Koehler on May 5, 2015

If ever I thought a person’s vanity might diminish with age, I have proven myself wrong: I am every bit as vain today as I have ever been. The problem is that the vanity now leads mostly to humiliation. And things are only getting worse.

So I am particularly pleased whenever I hear something positive about my physical appearance.

People often approach me at the courthouse to comment on something I have written here. I like this. For example, Grey Gardner told me the other day that his girlfriend – a public defender in New York — is a reader. I am a big fan of Grey, who is a first-rate lawyer and also a classy guy. So this was a compliment by extension. And a prosecutor told me recently that she was halfway into a blog entry before she realized she was the person who had inspired the post. Fortunately I was not criticizing her.

And then there was yesterday.

I wish I could remember my colleague’s name but he approached me as I was leaving the building. Asking me to confirm my identity, he told me he enjoyed the back-and-forth between me, my brother, and my brother-in-law in the comments section. That was nice. But what really made my day was what followed: “I wasn’t sure whether it was you or not,” he told me. “You look thinner in real life.”

Now come on: How often do you hear something like that?

I will be updating my website soon to make it more friendly for mobile devices. Maybe I should update my photograph at the same time. After all, moments pass.  Things will only be going downhill from here.


Please Call Me “Sir”

by Jamison Koehler on May 1, 2015

I went into a bank this morning wearing sweat pants, and the guy greeting people at the front door called me “Buddy.” I am sure that, had I been wearing a suit, he would have called me “sir.”

As a younger man, I used to hang out with my cousin and his friends. Let’s just say that if you saw my cousin on the street, you would have assumed he was a homeless man.

Clerks at respectable establishments would cringe the moment we walked through the door. We were much more welcome at other places. Walking into a Seven-Eleven, for example, I felt like George Costanza in the Seinfeld episode in which he is suddenly accepted into an exclusive club – in George’s case, a good-looking people’s establishment. There was, as it turned out, a whole world that had been hidden to me.

Hanging out with my cousin was thus an education for me. As a white male, maybe I was not as attuned as I should have been as to how people might react to me on the basis of my appearance alone.

Or maybe it was like Eddie Murphy getting onto a public bus in white face with only white people already on board.  “Pay?” the bus driver says with surprise.  “Are you kidding me? You know that paying is only for black people, right?”

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