Oh beautiful!


EVERY magazine is printing lists of the best things in the world. There are "Best Colleges," "Best Hospitals," "Best Doctors," "Best Towns," and even "Best State Troopers working for a Governor."

People magazine has recently published their list of "The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World."

I know that many of you were surprised that I didn't make the issue. It was one of those sad omissions caused by human error.

It turned out that I had made the list, and the magazine sent out one of their photographers to take my picture. Instead of going to my house, he went to John F. Kennedy Jr.'s house next door. When I came home from work I found the People van parked in his driveway.

I asked what was going on and they told me that JFK Jr. was posing as one of the 50 most beautiful persons on the face of the Earth.

This surprised me because, although John's a cute guy, he didn't deserve to be up there with Al Gore Jr. and Henry Cisneros, secretary of housing and urban development.

I went over to John Kennedy's place and informed the photographer that he was wasting his film because my physique and face were distinctly superior to John's. I was rebuffed. "We've got a deadline and when we touch up the photos John will look almost as good as you."

I was incensed and called the people at People. I left a message on their voice mail and four hours later an editor called me back.

"There's been a terrible mistake," I said. "I happen to be one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world and you photographed my neighbor, John Kennedy Jr., by mistake."

The editor went through his files. "You're right," he told me. "Now that I recall the balloting, you actually had two more votes than he did. Unfortunately, we're getting ready to go to press and we won't be able to include you in our issue."

"But what are people going to say when they see Kennedy instead of me?"

"I imagine there will be puzzlement and chagrin, but young John has his own following so not everyone will be disappointed."

"Why can't you dump Tom Cruise? After all, he's just another pretty face."

"We can't drop anybody at this late date. Perhaps we can make it up to you in our back pages with a photo of you as a guest at a Bruce Springsteen concert."

It was obvious that the magazine was not going to remake its special edition despite the blatant error. I thought about suing and letting a jury decide who had the best biceps in the world -- Kennedy or I. Instead, I pretended that my omission from the list was no big deal.

I made up some excuses like, "I didn't think much of the film they were using," or "When I heard that Paul Newman was going to be in the same issue, I said, 'Forget it.' "

I don't wish to give the impression that I am bitter about this. Sports Illustrated is talking to my agent about my appearing on the cover of their "Best Suntan" issue. I will appear solo with oil all over my body. It will make John Kennedy Jr. sorry that he didn't wait for a really good photo opportunity.

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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