Pretty Smart

It was one of those courtroom shows, and the girl was convicted of murder or something. She hadn’t done it, but she had used her prettiness to manipulate some hapless young man into doing it for her.

And the line was “Pretty is currency for when you are young.”

Yeah. It’s tradeable on the open market. Out there on the trading floor, “I have pretty. What will you trade for it?”

There is the obvious that goes without saying. But the experienced merchant of pretty…yes, I mean the smart girls, or at least the street smart ones…the wise ones know that it’s better to give it out in drops.

What will a smile get you? At the very least some cooperation, don’ t you think?

It’s interesting to see what pretty does. Like baking soda and vinegar. It has an effect. It’s a factor in the project plan, like the direction of the wind.

I have had some experience with the effect of pretty. As a woman, I am not the least or the greatest in the pretty department. But my store of the Pretty element, that mysterious substance, is enough to experiment and observe.

It is not such an easy thing. There have been times when it was a decided pain in the ass.

Even in the times when it’s supposed to be useful, say in romantic relationships, it is a highly suspicious thing. If I admit that I desire to be pretty, and that pretty is only in the eye of the beholder…
Then I must place myself in a position to be beheld to fulfill my desire for prettiness.

Which means that someone else has power over me. And what does that mean on the open market? I trade what to get back my own prettiness? What will it cost me to be pretty?

I went back on the dating scene again aware that the desire to be pretty in someone else’s opinion was a huge trap. It occurred to me that if someone tells me “You look beautiful”, I am disarmed. And for that particular type of encounter [dating, romance] I would need every weapon I had, and every possible form of armor.

I had to look very long in the mirror, yeah just like that. I had to be very very sure that I knew no one could give me or take away from me what I already had.

You have to be so cold. Which is a shame. I would like to have the ability to look down and blush if someone gave me a compliment. Now I only wonder what they are trying to steal from me.

It’s my currency, my treasure.

Then again, there are times when the pretty exchange is closed, or at least is supposed to be. There are times when pretty is not the point, and I just forget about it and think that other people probably forget too.

Like at work. Work is supposed to be about hard work and smarts.

At my last job, I was so busy I was losing my mind. Our cubes were short, so people could walk in the cubicle corridor, and lean over the wall to ask me a question. I never wanted to be interrupted. But I knew that being crabby would not improve anything.

I chose to pause for a millisecond after I realized someone wanted my attention. I would take that moment to paste a big old smile on my face before I turned to them. It was just to hide my inner turmoil, really.

The men (was it always men? It seems so in my memory, but surely a female had a question for me once in a while)–the men had the strangest reaction. ALWAYS, they forgot what they were going to say. They were struck dumb, and just stood there for a few seconds. They finally said “what a smile!” and then fumbled out whatever it was they had originally wanted to talk to me about.

I found this odd. The same men might have several questions in one day, and ALWAYS they would turn blithering idiot.

But I had to face the facts. I may have thought I had closed the pretty trading for the work day, but it went on without me.

Sometimes I wish I could unzip my outside and step out slick and smooth as a little green alien. No gender, no complication. Just a big huge head.

But it doesn’t work like that. And just like I had to learn not to let compliments disarm me, I also had to learn that even when I wasn’t paying attention the pretty element was out there catalyzing things. To ignore it was to leave a hole in my defenses.

So…what is this pretty thing worth? What kind of trade should I be working on for it?

I know that some females get ‘free’ dinner and even presents out of their measure of pretty. The princesses, as they delight to be called, seem to make a cheap trade to me.

I don’t want to be that kind of doll house female. I’m made out of tougher stuff.

You would have to go way back to find the sort of woman I shall be. I will be a shield-maiden. Eowyn showed that life.

If this world were a more beautiful place, then pretty could grow unashamed and free. Until that time, only the smart ones know how to handle it.

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