Friday, 4 March 2011

Portrait of a girl I used to know

Walking down the street the other evening I did a double take upon seeing a lassie who looked just like this girl called Ruth* that I used to go to church with. It got me to thinking about this girl for the first time in years. Now Ruth always seemed a little weird. To start with, her parents were ancient. I always assumed she was adopted, because her mother no way looked young enough to have borne her naturally. Then there were her clothes. Now Ruth was a grade A student, fearsomely intelligent, and probably a genius - I believe she now has a PhD - and, like many of that ilk, was both socially and sartorially inept. She was in her late teens when I was at the start of mine, but she always dressed exactly like an old maid. We're talking seriously antiquated garb here - frilly blouses with ruched collars that buttoned all the way up to the throat, and ankle-length, pleated, floral-patterned skirts. Plus she was hopelessly myopic and wore coke-bottle-bottom glasses with those petal-shaped frames that were still just about in fashion at the end of the 1950s. She was very tall and had long, slightly curly hair that always looked rather straggly, as though she couldn't be bothered to style it. Worst of all, she was a physicist, which meant that she was obsessed with stuff like quantum mechanics, but was unable to hold a conversation about pop culture.

Years later, I was amazed when my mother told me that Ruth had been sweet on me. I was certainly never aware of it at the time. Ruth was no great beauty, but she could probably have looked fairly decent if she'd ditched the 50s specs, styled her hair, and stopped dressing like a 70-year-old woman. But she still wouldn't have snared my attention unless she'd developed a bit of attitude and stopped simpering all over the place. Meek, submissive girls have never done it for me - I've always been attracted to bold, assertive women who know who they are and what they want. I was even more dumbfounded when my mum went on to tell me that Ruth is now married. I can't imagine how that happened - either she significantly smartened up her act when she got to university, or she met a guy who was just like her... what a thought!

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent... and the guilty.

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