The Problems of the Cute

There is a new picture of me at the top of this column. The old picture was taken in 1998, and it doesn’t accurately reflect the way I look now. I know this because a couple months ago I was reviewing a play when, during intermission, a woman asked if I was Eric Snider, and when I told her I was, she said she recognized me from my column and added, “You’ve gained weight since that picture was taken.” Apparently, the fact that I write reviews of local theater productions gives strangers license to tell me I’m fat.

So I had a new picture taken for this column, and coincidentally it was taken on my birthday. Later in the day, I had another picture taken of me. I was at McGrath’s Fishhouse in Orem for dinner, not because I like seafood, which I don’t, but because at McGrath’s they have this big stupid hat in the shape of a fish that they put on birthday people’s heads. Then they take a Polaroid picture of you wearing the hat, and you get to keep the picture. (You don’t get to keep the hat, unfortunately.)

Last year, my friends Luscious Malone and Tanny Tantan (names have been changed) dragged me to McGrath’s for my birthday dinner, despite the fact that I don’t like fish, and also despite the fact that it was a Sunday and I didn’t want to go out. They forced me to go because THEY like the place, and because they knew about the big stupid fish hat; that’s the sort of friends they are. And the result was this fantastic picture of me wearing the fish, smiling in an adorably cheesy manner. It’s one of the few good pictures ever taken of me.

So this year, I wanted to go back and get a new picture, to see if maybe I could top last year’s. Only this time, somehow the waiter taking the picture caught me off guard, and I wasn’t posed yet, so the picture is this horrible, horrible thing where I look like I weigh 1,000 pounds, with a huge double chin and big, floppy man bosoms. I mean, I’m no prize, but I generally look better than this photo would indicate. My greatest fear is that I will turn up missing and this will be the photo of me they show on the news because it’s the most recent one available. “Snider is described as being fat and grotesque, with enormous, gelatinous nungas,” they would say, especially on Fox. On the way out of the restaurant, my friend Jamal who I was with tripped and fell off the curb, which gave me something to laugh about and distracted me from the awful photo, and I guess what else are friends for?

A few days later, I saw a picture that I had forgotten existed. It’s from when several of us had a party to watch and make fun of Mariah Carey’s film “Glitter.” We decided we ought to dress up in white-trashy clothes, just to make a party out of it, and I wore a pair of Daisy Duke shorts and a T-shirt that had been altered so as to have no sleeves and to come down only to the middle of my belly. (It barely covered my gargantuan he-boobs.) Someone snapped a photo of this, and then I made the mistake of looking at it last week. What gets into us when we’re watching Mariah Carey’s “Glitter”?

Contrast all this with another friend of mine, Chad, who lives in Boston and recently decided he should be a model because a woman at the mall told him he should. Most of us make it a habit not to take advice from strangers, especially people at the mall, but not Chad. He immediately contacted an acquaintance who had connections in the modeling world, and next thing you know he’s getting some shots taken to put in his portfolio. He called me beforehand because he was nervous, and I couldn’t figure out what he was nervous about. It’s not like an audition, where you might screw up your lines. For a photo shoot, you’re showing up basically with your face. If you forget your face at home, yeah, I guess you’re hosed. But otherwise, it seems like it ought to be smooth sailing. I think Chad wished I could have related better, but I’ve never been able to understand the problems of the cute.

And what’s funny is, the woman who told me I had gained weight was, herself, rather fat. Go figure.

Except for some fine-tuning, this column was written in about 30 minutes. This is because I had mulled most of it around in my head for several days, so it had already taken shape.

If you're paying attention to my personal life as revealed in "Snide Remarks," you may figure out that Luscious and Tanny were among the friends who recently moved to Los Angeles (as mentioned in a recent column), which is why they were not present at this year's birthday festivities. Jamal, then, must be among the B-list friends who are being auditioned for A-list privileges. (See, you figured it out. See how smart you are?)

One of these days I'll get around to scanning in the McGrath's photos. The "Glitter" white trash picture, however, will not appear on the Internet as long as I am drawing breath.

I thought someone at the paper would object to the term "he-boobs," but no one did. I'm pretty sure I can't say "boobs" in the normal sense. Maybe the fact that they're not women's, and that they're mine specifically, makes it OK.