Finding Perfection in Imperfection


Beware of the perfect potato chip, peanut, or person.

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I do not know what kind of potato chip you like, but I tend to avoid the national brands and enjoy the local variety. For some reason, I have a problem with a perfect potato chip. You know, it is perfectly round and pure in color without a blemish. To me, it seems rather sterile and too good to be true. It lacks imagination (and taste). Instead, I prefer a chip with a little character. Maybe it is slightly burned on the edge or the skin somehow survives the cutting process and remains on the chip. Either way, I find them tastier than the perfect chips.

The same is true with peanuts. If there is a can of nuts on the table, I’ll zero in on those peanuts that are browner than the others or perhaps still have the skin on them. Likewise, I’ll do this with a can of mixed nuts. I’m also not a fan of plain white bread, particularly those soft loaves of bread we typically feed to kids. I like something with a little more imagination, such as rye, pumpernickel, sourdough, or a nutty whole wheat. And, Yes, I love the crust and heels of such breads. As for the crust, the crunchier the better. As to the heel, it is something all fathers have to eat whether we like it or not (I think it is in our job description).

I guess what I am saying is, while most people desire purity, I tend to gravitate towards a little imperfection. In terms of food, imperfection offers a bolder taste; it takes a typically bland pure product and gives it some character, thereby perfecting the taste. In other words, imperfections can lead to perfection.

The same is true with people. Those who seem to have perfect teeth, skin, hair, smile, who always say the right thing at the right time, and seem too be good to be true, I find rather boring. Maybe such people make me cognizant of my own imperfections, but I tend to prefer people with a gap in their teeth, balding, possess an interesting accent, or have some distracting foible. To me, such people are aware of their imperfections, work to overcome them and, by doing so, are much more interesting than the perfect people. The world would be very bland and uninteresting if everyone was perfect. Again, here is where imperfection leads to perfection.

I am certainly not suggesting we should all become nonconformists and dress avant-garde, or go out of our way to distract others by drawing attention to ourselves. Instead, we should just understand our imperfections, do not become obsessed by them, and enjoy the company of others. I think there is a tendency for people to focus on people’s shortcomings as opposed to their strengths and assets. When we do this, we miss the delicious brown peanut.

Some time ago I came up with the Bryce’s Law, “Never trust a person who doesn’t have at least one known vice (e.g., drinking, smoking, swearing).” If they do not exhibit at least one imperfection, they are probably too good to be true and masking other imperfections. As for me, I’ll keep looking for the brown potato chip, dark peanuts, and the guy with the bald spot. They may be imperfect, but they will likely have more character and are more interesting than those who purport themselves to be perfect. They aren’t.

As my father liked to say, “Don’t forget, the last guy that was perfect they hung on a cross.”

Keep the Faith!