ugly ducklingMy girlfriend is pretty. Really pretty. Which is why my husband was suspicious of her at first.

Why would she want to be hanging out with me, he wondered.

Which could have been insulting, but for some reason didn’t feel that way.

Dov didn’t quite know how to verbalize his concerns, but I knew what he meant. Could Laura be wanting to hang with me in order to emphasize her good looks?

I’d known someone like that, years ago.

Rebecca was little and cute and blonde, and she’d always hang out with Darlene, this mammoth dark-haired gal who wore coke bottle glasses with thick black frames. Rebecca wasn’t fooling the girls, any. But the boys, oh yes, they liked the effect.

The funny thing is, stripped of makeup, Rebecca wasn’t even particularly attractive. She was pop-eyed, with a shapeless dumpling of a nose. But she was little and blonde, so she played that up, at the expense of Darlene. Which is awful, because Darlene was a really nice person and Rebecca was not.

But back to Laura. I knew Dov suspected her, but I was just happy to bask in her light. She was kind, fun, irreverent, with great taste in movies, books, makeup, and fashion. And she was brutally honest about her shortcomings and effusive in her love not just for me, but for my entire family. She loved, LOVES, my kids.

And the real miracle is that our husbands like each other and even our kids like each other. When our families get together the effect is actually mind-blowing.

Now me? I’m kind of volatile. I make friends and lose them, because I say what I think and not everyone can handle my particular brand of brute honesty.

Not so Laura. In fact, it’s what we like best about us. We can agree to disagree in a respectful manner and our friendship will live to see the next day and the day after that.

Oh, and about her being pretty? After we’d been friends for awhile, she could talk about that with me, how in some ways, she was an unwitting trophy for her mom, her mom’s achievement, and how hurtful that was in a way. One of the stories Laura likes to tell (because girlfriends are allowed to tell their personal stories to each other as often as they like, and the other will always listen anew), is how her mom offered to fix her Jewish nose, which she saw as Laura’s one imperfection.

Laura refused. She was just fine with her nose. Think Jennifer Grey as Baby in Dirty Dancing and you’ll get what I’m saying here. The worst career move Grey ever made was getting her nose fixed. It stole everything that had made her uniquely adorable and quirky in that first movie. It was a landmark we’d loved and now she’d been made generic, just another Hollywood face.

Laura is no dummy. She knew her nose gave her character. Made the difference between just another face, and a face you’d remember and grow to love.

Which I do. Love her.

We text curse words to each other. We say things that ladies don’t say to each other. Because we have that unspoken understanding. We are the safe space for the other’s venting.

From Laura I learned things I should have known but didn’t. I learned it’s important to reach out and see how your mom is doing, or your friend, and to cheer people on for their accomplishments. I learned that from her because she never neglects to do these things for me. I learned from her example.

I learned from Laura that it’s okay to ask for things. She can ask me to bake a cake for her daughter’s birthday party and I can ask her to do my makeup before a job interview. And by the way, I have no doubt her makeup skills helped me wangle my great job as a parenting education blogger at Kars4Kids. It’s not easy to find a full time writing job. Can I credit her for helping me put a roof over the heads of my family?

Damn straight I would. She’s just that good with a makeup brush. And it may be more than that.

Because when she’s done making me up, she always wants her kids and husbands to come see how pretty I am. She wants to show me off. And just like that, I am. Pretty, that is.

Because Laura is pretty both inside and out and when I spend time with her, something magic happens.

I begin to feel pretty myself.

Varda Meyers Epstein is a mid-life mother of 12, and a parenting education writer at Kars4Kids, a Guidestar gold medal charity. Follow Varda on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.






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