It’s Better Than It Looks


There are many expressions that hold a common truth. For example, “Everything that glitters is not gold” merits consideration.  The expression highlights the reality that not everything that looks precious or true turns out to have substance or credibility. It may, at face value, look authentic and reliable, but turns out to be a false façade with a dark underlying. Calvin Miller expressed it like this: “Hate dresses well to please the buyer.” In his book, “The Singer”, Miller explains: “Oftentimes Love is so poorly packaged that when we have sold everything to buy it, we cry in finding all our substance gone and nothing in the tinsel and the ribbon. Hate dresses well to please the buyer.”


As I type these words, the name Bernard Lawrence “Bernie” Madoff comes to mind. It is almost as if his “surname” was prophetic. Bernie, reportedly made-off with approximately $18-to-20 billion dollars of investor’s assets. The scheme is often described as a $65 billion dollar scam, but Madoff didn’t reap that kind of benefit. Of course, $18-to-$20 billion isn’t exactly pocket change either.


Madoff is the former non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market and the admitted mastermind behind the Ponzi scheme operation that is considered the largest financial fraud in U.S. history. Of course, he was subsequently sentenced to 150 years in prison. I suspect that means he is “in” for life.


Madoff, was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009 for an extensive scheme that involved doctoring his clients’ account statements and returns. You’d think he would have learned his lesson, but reportedly money talks and Madoff is still listening.


Reportedly, while in prison, Madoff cornered the market on the sale of Swiss brand hot chocolate. He is said to have bought up every package from the prison commissary and became the middleman by subsequently selling it for a profit in the prison yard. Of course, nothing related to that enterprise is illegal, but it seems ethically inappropriate to me.


Of course, my sense of justice may not coincide with the thoughts of Madoff. He reportedly explained the indiscretion of his Ponzi scheme by saying: “It wasn’t going to hurt anybody. It was a temporary thing, and because of the success that I’ve had and the money I’ve made for people, I sort of felt that it would just sort of be a temporary situation and acceptable.” Some think his enterprise of wrong doing dates back to thirty years or more. You know what they say: “Time flies”.


Life lesson: “Everything that glitters is not gold”. Of course, I figured that one out a long time ago. Consequently, I’m not surprised. However, I learned another life lesson this week. It is closely akin to: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” You really can’t ascertain the contents of a book by simply looking at the cover. A book doesn’t have to have an appealing cover to include content and thought provoking information.


The same is true for a “hole-in-the-wall” kind of restaurant. I had lunch with a couple of friends in Pompano Beach, FL on Friday. The restaurant came highly recommended with the notation: “We need to plan on a late lunch or we’ll never be able to get into the restaurant. To say that it is “hole in the wall” doesn’t begin to provide an accurate picture of what it lacks in ambience. Honestly, if left to me, I’d never have gotten out of the car to go inside. Even if I ventured that far, I’d have back-tracked once I looked inside the restaurant. The seating capacity is limited to about fifteen-to-eighteen people and that includes counter space.  Of course, some folks think you can crowd about thirty people in the place.  From my perspective, that is too close for comfort.


At first glance, the restaurant was NOT within the realm of what I thought was acceptable. However, I’d never have offended my friend by saying: “This is not up to standards.” After all, how bad could it be?


Once inside, my friend said: “This place has a 4 ½ star rating. The food is exceptional, but no one could assign a 5 star rating to this place based on the looks. Having grown up in West Texas, I don’t have a lot of experience eating seafood. Oysters were definitely out! I wasn’t going there. I quickly scanned the menu and saw that “Grouper” was included on the menu. Before year-before-last, I’d never heard of grouper.


When the General and I were last in Florida visiting her sister and brother-in-law, they took us deep sea fishing. Yours truly caught the largest fish on the fishing boat that day. It was a Grouper. Departing the boat, our catch for the day was cleaned and packaged. We opted to take it to the restaurant next door where we had a scrumptious meal of our freshly caught fish.


The Grouper served at the Fish Shack (their name, not mine) was exceptional. Would I go back again? You bet! I was wrong to judgmentally rule out the restaurant because I didn’t like the looks. My daughter is a skilled chef. She’d say “presentation” is everything. Maybe she got that from me. I’m pretty picky with the way things look. I’ve been wrong before.


I’m now leaning toward traveling back roads and eating at hole in the wall restaurants. Of course, only the locals know where to find them.


All My Best!



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