Some Things Aren’t As They Appear

I’ve never been more surprised than when I opened the box and found a gold-trimmed stainless steel Rolex watch. The watch was a Christmas present from my brother Randolph. I knew his law practice was successful—but a Rolex. Heck, all I had gotten him was a sweater: a nice sweater but not anything to compare with his gift.

The watch fit well and looked good on my wrist. When I shook my wrist so the watch would settle down nearer my hand, I noticed an hour had passed. Puzzled, I again shook my wrist and watched the hour hand rapidly spin around the watch dial; something was bad wrong.

At first, when I showed my brother the problem, he looked puzzled but then began to laugh. He confessed that when in New York, a guy had approached him on the street, and whispered, “Hey bud, do you want to purchase a brand-new Rolex watch?” When my brother said no, he pleaded, “Just take a look at them, they’re legitimate and not hot.” So my brother followed him into an alley to view the watches and ended up purchasing my Christmas present.

Perhaps his gift was an unintentional payback for an intentional act of mine. When I was 17, my brother returned after spending six months studying in Monterrey, Mexico bringing with him a case of Mexican beer that he stored in a cabinet in our breakfast room.

It didn’t take me long to figure out, if I removed cans of beer from its rear, that the case would still appear to be full. Of course, I didn’t consider what would happen when Randolph decided to retrieve his beer.

As I entered the kitchen adjoining the breakfast room I saw my mother and brother studying the depleted case of beer. When they caught up with me as I tried to back out of the room, my brother was mad about my pilfering his beer; but my mother was even madder: with me for drinking beer and my brother for…well just general principles.

Years later Randolph invited Terri and me to be his guests at a German restaurant. When we were seated the hostess told us that we had picked an evening when they were going to present live entertainment: two contortionists who supposedly “put on a fabulous show.”

Later on, the lights dimmed, the owner introduced the entertainment and from the kitchen there appeared two, thin as a pencil, 80 year-old crones. I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t a joke: what could these women possibly do that I would want to see.

As they twisted themselves in impossible positions, it was scary, somewhat revolting but riveting entertainment. When we stood cheering, I was amazed: it was a great show.

Over the years I have discovered the truth of the saying that “You can’t judge a book by looking at its cover.” I have learned—often by hard experience—to be slow to judge; because often things are not as they appear: such as a Rolex that wasn’t; a full case of beer that was nearly empty and elderly ladies who appeared to be on their last legs, performing impossible feats of contortion.


When you meet a man, you judge him by his clothes; when you leave, you judge him by his heart.” – Proverb

2 responses to “Some Things Aren’t As They Appear

  1. Sonya Ruff Jarvis

    Isn’t the truth Bill? A great lesson that we all learn early but constantly need to revisit as we experience life. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Byron McClellan


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