Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Don't Love be Because I'm Beautiful

It had been a shock – the first time she realized that she too, might be beautiful.

She had spent her entire life, up until that point, in a blissful cloud of ignorance. She may never have realized if someone hadn’t informed her. She continued to wonder whether or not it had really been a favor.

She had been about 12 years old. It was the middle of summer and she was at a lake with two girlfriends. As is the custom at this age, her friends started a flirtation with two boys swimming nearby. After some giggling and hushed conversation, the two girlfriends sent her over to the boys with some instructions.

“My friends would like to know if you like them.” The question was bluntly worded and delivered with unwavering eye contact. The boys seemed relatively indifferent, but responded that they might.

She brought the message back to her friends. More giggling. More hushed conversation. Finally, the next course of action was determined.

Another trek through the 5 yards separating the two groups and she confronted the boys again. “My friends want to know if you think they’re pretty.” Again, relative indifference and some exchanged glances prefaced the response, “Yeah, sure.”

The stakes had been raised. The girls’ instinct to compete kicked in. “Ask them which one of us they think is prettier.”

With a cautious approach, she conveyed the question. Her concern was for the friend who would end up the loser.

She hadn’t even considered a third option.

“We think you’re beautiful.”

“What?” Her response was not vanity, rather, complete disbelief.

“We think you’re beautiful. More than your friends.”

She instantly felt a wave of shock, guilt, confusion and worst – euphoria. A grin replaced her gaping mouth. It was her first taste of a drug that would consume the rest of her life. Before, she had been a girl: confident that her friends loved her because of who she was. Now, she was never again to possess this sort of certainty.

It would be years before she took another hit, but later in life, she blossomed beyond her own ability to comprehend. In some cases, she would literally be stopped by strangers who wished to commend her appearance. She would be told she was completely irresistible. Even women – heterosexual women – would approach her with this admiration.

She would never regain the innocence she had once had. Even as the compliments continued to flow, all she could wish was that she had never taken that first drag. That first, delicious drag.