National Commentary

Johnny’s World: The First Date


Manicure? Check. Blowout? Check. Maxed out AmEx from charging new dress? Check. Fresh waxing even though he won’t see my treasure trove for another three dates? Check.

I am a firm believer in the idea that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I wasn’t much of a dater (I was more of a trick-him-into-liking-you kind of guy) but the simple fact remains that if you want to trick someone into liking you, you should smell good, be polite and not have lunch remains in your teeth.

My mind is constantly boggled by how much preparation and primping goes into a first date with a complete stranger when you can’t even bring yourself to wash your hair before greeting the world on a daily basis. I don’t think there is a person among us who hasn’t seen the girl in the Ugg boots and clumped mascara from a rough party the night before with her over-sized sweatpants falling off of her butt like Lil Wayne, or the dude standing too close to us in the elevator who reeks of garlic-infused garlic and probably has crust somewhere on his body. Why is it that the vast majority of people in our country think job interviews and first dates are the only events that warrant a clean shirt?

Could it be laziness? Insecurity? Lack of finances? It can’t be laziness. It’s really not that hard to brush your teeth, wash your face and comb your hair. After all, a child can do it, and you could do it when you were 5, too. Insecurity would seemingly lead us to the opposite result – being too clean and too perfect, with false lashes glued into place before 6 a.m., daily. No, it can’t be insecurity. No matter how rich or poor you are in America, for the most part you have running water, if not in your homes then at least in public restrooms, and you can use a multitude of things from the grocery store or farm stand to perfume and take care of yourself.

When I meet these people who don’t really care what I think of them – as I’m not a possible employer or love interest – I can honestly say I don’t judge by looks or clothing. I wasn’t raised with a whole lot and I was a strange looking child, so I don’t believe someone’s value is measured by the things they’ve acquired or their genetic blessings. It’s the lack of respect they have for themselves that really irks me.

If you don’t care about your hygiene, I can only imagine when the last time you went to the doctor for a checkup was. Teeth cleaning with your DDS? “Nope, I just use mouthwash.” People fail to remember that many human ailments can start by having an unhealthy mouth. The list of health and self-worth examples goes on and on, but I think you get the picture.

We can’t all be reality show superstars and have a hair and makeup team at the ready 24 hours a day, but would a little effort on a daily basis hurt? It’s sort of like exercise: You don’t really feel like doing it all, but once you do, you feel bigger, better and stronger.

With all this said, I have to think that maybe it isn’t really the first impression that people remember us by, but the first bad impression that becomes storied – the first laugh-so-hard-you-snort moment, the first time you didn’t blow your nose hard enough and have a leftover sitting in there, the first time they smell you after you’ve been to the gym. You can’t control imperfection. It comes when it wants to and leaves a trail of devastating memories.

Bottom line, a little effort is all it takes, on the daily, to make a good impression on the world, even if you don’t meet the one, or the best paycheck that day. Make the effort to take care of yourself because you only get that one opportunity at life. Why not make the best of it?

Author’s Note: This column was inspired by a recent plane trip when the man sitting across the aisle from me had dirty socks, smelly feet and snored while sleeping and drooling.