Thursday, January 12, 2012

We’re No Angels

“If crime showed on a man’s face, there wouldn’t be any mirrors.”

~ Albert (Aldo Ray)
We’re No Angels (1955)

That quote is one of my all-time favorites from the classic movie We’re No Angels. I enjoy it so much that I posted it as my facebook status the other day. This prompted my friend Patty to comment, “It shows on MY face, believe me…” I replied that I thought she had a lovely face and that all I see is a wonderful soul that cares about others.

Patty, being the smart aleck that she is, remarked, “Oh sure, BABY pics!” After thinking for a moment, I told her that I found out a long time ago that once I get to know someone, they never look the same to me again. I only see what’s inside that person.

This may sound unusual, but it’s true. No matter how someone might look in a photo, I only see the person based on what they mean to me.

The first time this sensation occurred to me was with Denise, a girl that I was dating. Denise was my first official girlfriend and I thought that I loved her. Maybe I did or perhaps it was just infatuation.

Who knows?

That’s not really important now. What is important is that I cared about her and I thought that I had gotten to know her. When I looked at Denise, I saw someone that was special to me for a variety of reasons.

After dating for a while, I saw a picture from a wedding reception that we had recently attended. I did a double take. At first glance I wasn’t sure that it was the Denise I had grown so fond of. Somehow she looked different to me.

She dumped me a month later. Something about me caring too much…

Looking back, I realize that the reason Denise looked different in that picture is because I really didn’t know her. I was just thrilled to finally have a girlfriend. To be honest, I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know her all that well.

Since my experience with Denise, I have tried to be more cautious when evaluating people in general. I honestly do try to get to know someone before developing an opinion of him or her. Unfortunately, I’m not too sure how successful I have been in this undertaking.

According to my dear friend Bev, my efforts have been in vain. She often chides me for thinking everyone is nice. When I ask her to be more specific, her typical response is, “You never see bad in anybody.”


If that were indeed true, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. However, I don’t totally agree with Bev’s assessment of my ability to gauge the quality of individuals.

While, I might tend to concentrate on people’s good traits, I am quite aware that nobody is perfect. There is good and bad in everyone.

In fact, that is what endears me to some people. It gives me great joy to know someone who is considered to be “rough around the edges” who also possesses redeeming attributes.

My penchant for this is evidenced in two of my favorite TV shows, Northern Exposure and The Wire.

On Northern Exposure, as vindictive and greedy as Maurice Minnifield was, he also had a heart of gold and a real softy deep inside. No one is totally rotten. Conversely, as charming as Marilyn Whirlwind was, her spiteful side would surface on occasion. No one is that sweet, not even Marilyn. I loved that show.

The Wire also had its share of enigmatic characters, the most notable being Omar Little. Omar was a gay stick-up man who murdered more people than I care to recall. Yet, he lived by a strict moral code and never bothered people not involved in “the game”. He also had a strong dislike for profanity. (Take note, Bev.) Omar is easily my favorite TV character of all time.

One final example of “bad” people possessing endearing qualities comes from We’re No Angels. Three convicts – Joseph, Albert and Jules escape from prison on Devil’s Island and arrive at a nearby French colonial town.

They go to the store of the Ducotels – Felix, Amelie and their daughter Isabelle, fully intending to rob them. However, the three felons have a change of heart and instead, end helping the troubled family with their problems.

In fact, they even fix them Christmas dinner. After which, Joseph says, “We came here to rob them and that’s what we’re gonna do – beat their heads in, gouge their eyes out, slash their throats. Soon as we wash the dishes.”

Of course they never harm a hair on the head on any of the Ducotels. Only Felix’s evil cousin, Andre and his creepy nephew, Paul feel their wrath. They both die.

But I digress. This blog began with a quote from We’re No Angels and evolved into me talking about being able to see the good in others. Along with a few other things. To wrap it up, I would like to quote that great movie one last time.

Because of their kind deeds, young Isabelle gushed about the convicts being angels. This caused Albert to say, “Even the girl called us angels.” To which Albert responded, “We’re no angels.”

No, Joseph, none of us are. But there is some good in all of us.

Until next time…from the booth.

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