Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beauty Hurts

       She had traffic stopping good looks, walking across the WalMart parking lot.  Unfortunately, the new black Camaro didn't stop, and ran into the Volvo in front of it. She didn't flinch, but kept walking into the store like this happened every day.  Two crew cuts got out of the cars, shook hands and laughed together.
       She was in the checkout line in front of me, and the teenage cashier was obviously intimidated by her, couldn't speak even though company policy requires it.
       Now I am of the firm belief that even beautiful people have personalities; deserve the common courtesy of a hello. For the checker's sake I decided to tease her a little.
       "You know that accident in the parking lot was your fault."
       She turned her head to me.  I thought I saw a flash of anger. Gawd, she WAS stunning.
       "Do you think you could tone it down a little?  You know, gain a few pounds, drag a couple of kids around, dress frumpier?  Public safety issue and all..."
       The anger in her eyes was replaced by a profound sadness, and tears welled up there.  She almost whispered, "I wish... sometimes."  She held my gaze for a full second, then turned back to pay for her groceries.  The cashier was staring at me like I was an ogre.  I was feeling like one.
        I should have told her my attempted compliment was badly timed, obviously. I should have asked if she was OK.  I should have reassured her that whatever was troubling her would pass. I should have offered to help, if I could.  But when she looked into my eyes, and I saw that hurt, that vulnerability, I froze like the teenager before me.  I choked out a "Sorry", and she gave me a half smile and a no-worries wave of forgiveness as she left.
        The checker asked if I knew who that was. I said "Nope", and left.  Thinking back after I got reoriented, I think he was about to tell me she was someone recognizable to a more informed person.
        If you had told me four hours ago that I could ever again be shaken by a look from any woman, a girl really, I'd have asked to share your drugs.  But I will never forget those eyes.

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