Blog: Malibu and Harvard

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Burt Ross

I just returned home from my 50th college reunion when I realized that Malibu and Harvard have something in common other than me — people are unduly impressed by both. When people hear I live in Malibu, I inevitably get that “OH” in response, like I live in a $50 million estate overlooking the ocean and Barbra Streisand comes over to my house each night to sing me a song.

I no longer tell people I live in Malibu. Rather, I tell them I live in Southern California, and when they persist, I say in the greater L.A. area, and when that doesn’t suffice, I whisper “Malibu” under my breath.

Harvard is the same thing. People somehow think that if you went to Harvard, you must be another Albert Einstein. (He never went to Harvard.) Anybody who knows me for more than five minutes (sometimes it takes even fewer minutes) realizes I am not only no genius, but that I’m not even particularly smart. But a complete stranger hears Harvard and again it’s that “OH.” So when people inquire where I attended college, I simply tell them Massachusetts, and if they persist, I say in the Boston area, and if that doesn’t suffice, I whisper “Harvard” under my breath.

Now some of you reading this column who don’t know me might not believe me when I say I am not the brightest light bulb out there. To prove my point, let me make a few confessions. First of all, I don’t know how to open the hood of my car. How bright can you be if you can’t open the hood of your car? When I was mayor back in the “old country,” I once butchered a popular expression by telling the audience, “Six of one, a dozen of another.” 

If these examples don’t convince you, then try this one on for size.

You know those olives with pimentos? Well, yours truly actually believed the olives grew on trees with the pimentos already in them. It never dawned on me that mankind would stuff each olive with a piece of pepper. 

There are unfortunately many other examples, but you get the idea.