Maybe this should become a series. Maybe it could be if I found the time to write more frequently. I guess it’s not so much finding as making the time. I’m working on making time for the people and things that are most important to me, so why not this, too? Eh, it’s a work in progress. I’ll get back to you on it.

Today’s crush comes courtesy of a curious cat… one of the ones who isn’t dead after all.

We were out, having a couple drinks. There was an interesting couple sitting down the bar from us. They were interesting because they just didn’t look like they belonged together. At least not in the sense of what our society defines as “belonging together.” I could describe them in detail, but honestly it doesn’t matter what they looked like or what made them seem different. My friend as much as confirmed that when he served up a “well, they say beauty is only skin deep.”

Remembering that couple, and looking at others, I must strenuously object (thank you, writers of A Few Good Men, courtesy of Demi Moore and Kevin Pollak—love that scene). In my opinion, beauty has nothing whatsoever to do with skin. Color. Quantity. Texture… All unrelated.

To me, beauty lives inside a person. It makes itself known through their eyes, and more obviously, their mouths.

A smile is often the first thing I see in someone. Does it appear genuine? Is it so big it takes up the person’s whole face? Do the eyes match the smile? That combo, my friends, is pure beauty that can’t come from the skin. And you don’t need to look very far to see it in the wild. Just spend some time observing people at restaurants, the airport, or even your local gym.

I had the pleasure of meeting two dear friends out for happy hour a few weeks ago. Not the same happy hour I opened with. Remember that work in progress? Well, it may involve a few hours of happiness.

As our server checked our IDs, she commented that we all looked like we could be in our early 30s, despite the fact that all three of us are at least a decade beyond that. Talk about giant smiles! I already knew my friends were beautiful humans, but that fact became evident to everyone else in the place as soon as they smiled.

Our server’s comment may have had something to do with the other fact—that we were giving her money in exchange for drinks—but she, too, had a smile on her face I found very genuine. It matched the look in her eyes. She just seemed to love what she was doing. And she was beautiful in the same way I see beauty in pictures of my daughter when she’s in her element. Helping people see something beyond themselves. It’s like a light inside that nothing can dim. My point is that it doesn’t matter what you do or how deep your skin is. Your true nature lives inside, and it shows itself every time you smile an authentic smile.

I’ve had quite an interesting journey that brought me to where I am now. Like most people, I’ve seen some dark times and been rained on a time or two. But in deference to my friend Barry Manilow—I call him my friend because he still sends me email about upcoming shows—I made it through the rain. I just read the full lyrics to that song again. It’s playing in my head. And making me smile. The wonderful thing is, I see more beauty around me now than I ever have. All I have to do is look for it. And I’m forever grateful to the people who help me see it every day.


  • michael marotta

    40 kilometers south of Canada and a little left of center

    Michael Marotta started making up stories before he started school in Lockport, New York (a.k.a., South Canada). He would sit for hours, imagining himself into his grandmother’s memories of growing up during The Great Depression and World War II. Fascinated by the people in those tales, he began to make up his own characters (and no small number of imaginary friends). He honed his craft in high school, often swapping wild stories for the answers he didn’t know to cover up the fact that he hadn’t studied. You’d be surprised at how many good grades he “earned” based on how complete his essays appeared!   Today, Michael’s the guy making up histories for people he sees at the airport, in restaurants and grocery stores, on the golf course, or simply hanging around in his hometown of Franklin, Tennessee. Most of the imaginary friends have moved on, but their spirits live in the characters and stories he creates—pieces of real people marbled with fabricated or exaggerated traits and a generous helping of Eighties pop culture.   Michael’s characters appeal to many people because they are the people we all know. They are our friends, our families and people we encounter every day. He writes for the love of writing and for the crazy old lady who raised him.