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A most withering compliment - R.H. Joseph

Beyond despondent, I'm considering combining massive doses of Prozac with psychiatric counseling. And frankly, if this doesn't relieve my despair I'll welcome a pre-frontal lobotomy.

In the words of the great Joey Ramone, "I want to be sedated."

"What could possibly be so disheartening?" inquire those irritating, incredulous Pollyannas that spring up whenever one is miserable. "Go stub your toe on something; then you might, just might, have a sense of what I'm going through!" I exclaim in savage rebuke.

Trust me, they couldn't possibly feel my pain until they've walked a mile in my ill-fitting shoes with their big, fat, throbbing digit compressed within the inflexible simulated cow integument purchased from the low-budget shoe-a-rama. ("So cheap we're practically giving them away!")

Brothers and sisters, all is woe. My life is in a tailspin, my sense of self more fragile than the thin layer of ice on a newly frozen puddle.

"What could possibly cause Mr. Optimism such grief?" you reiterate with an infuriating hint of upbeat bonhomie intended to mollify my gloom.

Since you asked: Baby's car, a five liter '94 Mustang GT was so long in the tooth the glue factory had begun sending us those inoffensive, nondenominational holiday cards proffered by merchants who really don't care about us or the season but would rather not offend any of the myriad ethnic, religious and political minorities with money to spare. (Hard times in the Land of Plenty!)

So we (That is to say I; guys cannot permit the Little Ms. to make any choices whatsoever when considering the purchase of a new vehicle!) decided the time was right to order precisely the car we wanted.

Till now we've always waited for one of our vehicles to self-destruct before purchasing another and then we'd have to get something off the lot. In other words, something so ugly, so devoid of cool amenities and possessed of absurd gewgaws nobody else wanted it.

Now it's fair to say I'm a hep cat; I read Road and Track magazine and am up on everything to do with ultra cosmic sports cars. So a couple of years ago when I saw BMW was coming out with a brand new Mini Cooper I started leaving little hints around the house.

"Do you really want to buy your mother an iron lung or should we just save the money for a Mini Cooper?" I'd ask in passing. (The trick is to present the case so suavely she barely notices.)

"Let me sew it for you. Don't be a crybaby; it's really not that deep, the scar will be hidden by your clothes, and we can put the money you'd waste on a doctor toward a zippy new Mini Cooper. Besides, at your age you wouldn't want that part of your body to show anymore anyway." (A little subtle psychology always helps.)

The subterfuge worked and before you can say Jack Brabham (Formula One Drivers Champion 1959 and 1960 in a Cooper-Climax) I had the Little Ms. on the showroom floor. Better still, she ordered one. Yippee!

"If it's her car why are you so stoked?" A: 'cause I get the Mustang. B: When we're out together I'll get to drive the Mini Cooper. Zoom!

So the very first day following our purchase I drove it to work. Suddenly, instead of being a small fish in a big pond I'm a stud, a man-and-a-half, muy macho.

I swaggered in through the circulation department, casually mentioned my (My!) new Mini Cooper S (more power n it's a guy thing) is parked outside and waited for the women to start throwing themselves at me.

Then it happened. The eruptive moment I had been waiting for, when all the world would see me for the hunk I am, deflated like a Whoopee Cushion crushed 'neath Haystack Calhoun's prodigious derriere.

A chorus of "It's cuuuuute!" wafted from the parking lot below and I was mortified, devastated, emasculated.

I never, ever want to be associated with anything remotely cute. "Tops" are cute. New hairdos are cute. "Practical pumps" are cute.

Look at it the other way, women don't call their red, 5-inch stilettos cute because they're not about cute. They're about hot, sexy, randy. I'm about hot, sexy, randy; I'm not about cute. I don't want to be cute n ever!

The next day I rode my Harley Davidson motorcycle to work (Did I mention it's a Harley Davidson? A black one. Tough guys wear black; it's scary.) whilst wearing all that leather stuff that makes you sound like Aragorn when you walk.

I strutted, I swaggered, I grimaced. "I got 'em back!" I thought.

Then somebody pointed out I was carrying my lunch in a Bed, Bath and Beyond bag.

All is lost.

R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at rjoseph@news-daily.com.