Sunday, April 26, 2009
I rode the school bus with her every day. Seventh grade was painful enough without having to begin each morning stumbling past The Perfect Girl. Honestly, her older brother got all the good looks in the family; she was the Caroline to his John-John, but she still shone in the reflected glory of his football-team-captain aura.
I would lumber onto the bus, squeezing past her and her chattering friends, to my usual seat, alone, and gaze at their morning tween version of a kaffeeklatsch. In hindsight, she wasn't really that pretty, but she seemed perfect to me. Where I had unruly dirty-blonde curls, she had that 70's-sleek thick, straight chestnut mane. I wore weird aviator-style wire-framed glasses and had two layers of braces on my teeth. She was free from any sort of facial hardware, with smooth flawless skin. She had an uncluttered beauty, at least in my eyes, and I often found myself simply staring at her and her forgettable friends each morning. They gossiped and laughed on the interminable bus ride toward our middle school in a small Connecticut town.
One morning, as she turned around in her seat so she could chat with her girlfriends, The Perfect Girl caught my eye. I must have been watching them, quietly and alone from my seat a few rows back, when she noticed me. She sat up straighter. Her smile melted away and she barked at me, "Take a picture, bitch. It lasts longer." Her friends all turned to look at me, gasping and then squealing with laughter. I quickly turned away, looking out the bus window. My face warmed, I was mortified. I couldn't believe that she had even noticed me at all; I had always felt invisible on that school bus and suddenly a dozen pairs of eyes were looking and laughing at me. She didn't know that I had been looking at her with a mix of admiration and envy. That I thought she was beautiful and confident, where I was still an ugly duckling searching for my footing and losing my way in 7th-grade hell.
I felt as if she had stabbed me.
I never thought of her as The Perfect Girl again.
Posted by VH McKenzie at 5:59 PM