Sitting at breakfast this morning at our local bagel shop I noticed a new couple in the restaurant and, at first glance, the woman appeared to be the spitting image of June Cleaver. June Evelyn Bronson Cleaver, as played by Barbara Billingsley, was a principal character in the American television sitcom Leave It to Beaver which aired in the early years of broadcast TV over 50 years ago. June and her husband, Ward, are often invoked as the archetypal suburban parents of the 1950s with two sons, Wally and “The Beaver”, ages twelve and seven (“almost eight”). The episodes followed the escapades of Wally and Beaver and usually ended with a moral lesson delivered to the boys, but also often included reminders of childhood and minor lessons for the parents through the adventures of their boys – dull subject matter by today’s standards.
In the 1950s when I was ten years old and originally watched the series I recall that June Cleaver’s appearance was pleasant enough for an “older” woman but certainly nothing memorable. What led to an epiphany this morning was that looking at this woman now my thought was that she was very attractive which caused me to reflect on the realization that one’s perception is situational and, in this case, can change significantly with age or time.
Our family was blessed with the recent arrival of a new grandson and of course my wife and I flew up to see him and his parents. When we returned home our family and friends asked to see pictures and inquired who he resembled and, as my wife was reaching in her purse for her phone, and as I have always been an advocate of honesty, I am afraid that I may have offended or at least greatly surprised several friends when I responded that, at least to me, my new grandson did not resemble another family member and, as with most newborns, he was simply not very attractive.
This past week a homebuilder client was similarly upset when, in response to his question of what could be improved with his new homes, I replied that more attractive designs would help.
With our grandson, what a difference a few months made as he is turned into a little person and is really very, very cute. Thanks to smart phones we are updated almost daily with pictures and videos and, being as impartial as possible for a grandfather, I believe that he could probably supplant the Gerber baby on their labels.
On the other hand and unfortunately for my builder client, weeks, months or years will not make those homes more attractive. I am not suggesting that these homes were repulsive and relegated to the realm of HomeVestors of America (you’ve probably seen the billboards – big black and yellow signs proclaiming “We Buy Ugly Houses”) but merely that they were simply plain, lacking any distinctive and superior flair or visual appeal. Continue reading