I am grateful for the arrival of a tiny Winston Churchill look-alike who has overwhelmed cable television’s usual dreary obsession with homicide trials.
The baby I refer to, of course, is that little bundle of royal joy born to William, Britain’s future king, and to his affable bride Kate Middleton.
When word went out that the new baby was about to be displayed before the world, I wondered what the smallest future king looked like. I was disappointed at first when the couple walked out the hospital door with a large blanket full of baby with nothing showing but the top of a little bald head.
The photographers on the scene were yelling, “Show the baby’s face.” I sat here in Idaho in front of our television, yelling from inside my little bald head, “Show the baby’s face.”
Finally, the proud parents briefly complied. I was embarrassed because I shouldn’t need to see a baby’s face to see who the kid resembles. As Winston Churchill, the wise and savvy World War II prime minister of Great Britain, once said of himself, “Madam, all babies look like me.”
And they do, of course. The parents peeled back that regal blankie, revealing a face so much like Churchill’s that I almost expected to see a cigar sticking out of the kid’s royal piehole.
In a way, it is astonishing that a newborn child and a chubby old man would look so much alike. Suffice it to say, a baby face looks better on a baby than on an old man.
But an attractive appearance is not tremendously important at either end of life if you are a kind and useful person. That face worked well enough for Churchill to lead a great nation to victory against another man who acted like a baby – screaming, shrieking, pathologically self-centered Adolf Hitler.
But why is it that a man can have that face and look somewhat silly while any newborn with virtually the same face can be considered so adorable that half the planet is now cooing in slobbering words like “cute” and “darling” and “precious.” Millions of addled people now risk language diabetes.
This all has something to do with size and freshness. No matter how silly a Churchill or a me might look at this size and age, if you shorten that appearance by three feet or so, there is something about it that is irresistible. Few creatures are so mean and awful that they aren’t adorable when they are young.
That is Nature’s way of protecting beginner animals while they are growing large enough to protect themselves. Technically, babies are not necessarily great looking. It is what they are and what they represent that is beautiful. But we are built to see their actual appearance through eyes clouded by affection. Perception trumps reality.
At later stages in the lives of grown men and women, we survive on our ability, not on our appearance. Churchill did not get where he came to be because he was so darned good looking. He got where he was despite how he looked. And it could have been worse. Churchill could have looked more like a fetus than a baby.
Babies by contrast are more like some lesser movie stars, getting by on their looks.
Baby George begins his life in the best of both worlds. He just got here and he already has a great job waiting for him in 50 or 60 years, whether he would be any good at it or not.
As for now, he is, in fact, a beautiful baby, just as you and I used to be.Contact columnist Bill Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501.