Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pushing maximum density...

And the award for the bitchiest off-the-cuff remark of the day goes to...yours truly. Why?

Picture it. Sicily. 1917. (Okay, not really.) A suburban brunch spot in suburban Denver specializing in bacon and all its appurtenances. (Seriously...these guys have a bacon flight.) After food and many mimosas and bloody marys and plenty of laughs and sassy comments, someone points out to me that a mutual friend, who was also a closeted gay boy back in the day in high school, thought that I was quite a looker at the time. (No word on what he thinks now, but that's beside the point; he's partnered and quite happy where that's concerned.)

My immediate response? A mean side-eye and a caustic "Well, shows how much he knows."

Silence. Then plenty of "ooh! that's harsh!"-like comments.

So let's back up, shall we? Did I mean to slam him? No. Definitely not. But this comes from recognition that very few people in high school are good looking - or at least, as good looking as they would like. We're all adjusting to bodies that are suddenly shooting skyward and out...and often in pretty embarrassing ways, sometimes beyond our control. Or they aren't growing quite the way we were hoping they would. For my part, I was a pencil-necked stick figure, cursing my physique - or lack thereof. I had a hard time thinking that anyone would find me attractive. Particularly - years later - said guy, whom I found also kinda cute, in a beefy/nerdy kind of way.

It's an interesting conundrum. One of my best friends in college was a self-professed chubby girl who was also insanely brilliant, tremendously sensitive, and utterly punk-rock. I could always rely on her for some great ultra-leftie polemic or an update on her latest self-published fanzine called Anarchy Penguin. And she always called me her little pumpkin blossom or some other sweet nothing. But combine all of the above qualities, and man, you have one painfully self-conscious girl on your hands. She did not fare well in the dating scene. Such was her shame, she told me that even if the girl of her dreams showed up and found her equally as appealing, she would run away, because who in their right mind would even give her a second look? And my heart ached for her. But I got where she was coming from, so I couldn't stand on a pedestal and say "Why can't you just accept that others will love you for who you are...and if they're physically attractive to you, so much the better?" I could feel it, but it would be really disingenuous and hypocritical to say it.

(Years ago, the story seemed to have a happy ending. She began growing out of her "chubby" phase, mainly due to a job that was accessible by bike, so she rode all the time. She also found a guy who loved her for who she was. And I breathed a joyous sigh of relief. Haven't seen her since, though, which is a shame.)

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