The next day, I was making lunch when Keniesha sat down at the breakfast bar. I could sense her behind me and knew she was going to get all up in my business. I stirred furiously pretending I didn’t know she was there.
“You haven’t talked at all about your date tonight with Garret.”
I stirred harder. “The only thing I can say about it is that I couldn’t think of a legitimate reason to cancel on him. I could say I’m sick, but I’m a terrible liar.”
I don’t know how it happened, but I got dragged into having a full on conversation with her about it. Lunch was forgotten.
“Well, I’m glad you’re a terrible liar and that he’d see right through that. You’re going!”
“Yes, I know,” I said glumly.
“I have something that might cheer you up. A gift for you. I made an appointment for you at the spa. It’s all set up. I told them to give you a complete makeover.”
“Well, aren’t you happy?” she asked.
Good gravy, I thought. This day was just getting better and better. My stomach lurched. Maybe I was sick? I thought hopefully.
I was trying to figure out if I was feeling faint, or at least if I had a fever when Keniesha’s voice brought me back to reality.
“You are going, right?” she insisted. “It’ll be fun! They’re going to do your hair, nails and pick out an outfit for you.”
Wow. Just wow.
“Umm, I thought we were short on cash,” I protested with the first thing that came to mind.
“Oh, we are,” she agreed. “But I got a couple gift cards from my boss and my Secret Santa at work this year. And don’t feel bad about using them. You need this more than I do.”
Ouch. “Thanks, I guess.” I should’ve known she had this all figured out.
“You know I didn’t mean it like that. And you are going. And you’re gonna like it!”
Seeing no way out of this, I thanked her in earnest. But I really had to find a way to calm my nerves. I wasn’t just going out of my mind because I couldn’t get out of this date. Now I had an appointment at the spa, too. Most girls would be thrilled, I guess, but this just sent me into orbit. I wasn’t sure if I wanted anyone in my personal space touching me.
What were they going to do to me there? Would I have any input at all? I mean, I know I don’t look like much, but I wasn’t sure I needed a complete makeover.
I had just started taking yoga classes. That was supposed to calm you down, right? I was still really new to the whole yoga and meditation thing, but I concentrated hard on what I had learned so far.
Surprisingly, it really did seem to work. By the time I’d finished and showered, I felt a little more confident. I couldn’t get out of anything that was about to happen, but maybe I could change my frame of mind and at least try to have some fun despite myself.
I arrived at the spa a few minutes early and stood outside long enough to try to convince myself that this was going to be a great experience. I talked to myself real long and hard until I realized I had to finally go inside and get this done.
I went in looking like this…
…And came out looking like this a few hours later.
I kept yanking at the bottom of my skirt because it felt too short. The ladies inside had told me it wasn’t but it just felt weird.
Turns out, I like what they did with my hair. And they did ask me for my input. The facial had made my skin really smooth. The makeup didn’t cover up all of my freckles, but it really evened out my skin tone. And look! I discovered lip gloss.
Okay, so I may have enjoyed that pampering just slightly. The heels had me kind of nervous, though. Maybe I would trip walking to the car and break my ankle. Now that’s a legitimate reason for skipping a date!
Garret was precisely on time and he took me to a small club. He looked so handsome; as if he’d look any other way. I was afraid to eat because my stomach was flip flopping all over the place. Garret pretended he didn’t notice, though, and he talked casually through dinner about the Covington Science Lab, his plans for advancement in his career there and about all the money he’d be making.
I think most girls would find themselves annoyed that all he discussed was himself. I, on the other hand, was grateful. If he was talking about himself, he wasn’t focusing on me.
After our dishes were cleared, he took my hand and we walked onto the dance floor.
“You look stunning,” he gushed. “It’s really amazing what some makeup and an expensive outfit can do.”
“Huh?” That felt pretty much like he’d kicked me in my gut. And seeing as how I was already having problems in that department-
“You’re beautiful,” he said smoothly. How did he keep doing that? He said the “B” word with that silky smooth voice of his and I suddenly couldn’t remember what I was thinking a mere second ago.
Just then, a slow song began to play. “Let’s dance!”
“I don’t know how,” I said as I shook my head. I was barely maneuvering in these heels, the date was almost over, and there was no longer a reason to break my ankle.
But, as what seemed to be the status quo, he didn’t pay any attention to what I had said. He effortlessly pulled me closer and began to sway with the music.
Just go with it, my mind was screaming. You’ll be fine! But I couldn’t talk myself down. My body was shaking like a leaf.
Garret continued on and after an eternity (okay, I know the song was probably only 4 or 5 minutes long tops), I began to move with him instead of floundering like a fish out of water.
How did I fit against him so well?
A couple hours later, he brought me home. We were both pretty quiet as he drove and I wondered what he was thinking. My face was still flushed but I didn’t know if it was from the dancing or the way he held me while we danced.
Outside my house, he asked if he could kiss me goodnight. And like a big nerd, I told him I didn’t think so.
Surprisingly, that didn’t seem to bother him too much. He gave me a hug that seemed a little too long, and then stood outside until I was safely in the house and I’d turned the porch light off. I watched out the front window as he drove away, slipped out of the dangerous heels, then I went upstairs as quietly as I could manage.
In a daze, I washed my face, brushed my teeth and got into my pajamas. Luckily, Keniesha was already asleep, so I had tonight to think about the date before I had to spill any details to her.
For the first time in a long time, I looked at my reflection in the mirror. Amazingly, I didn’t see the scrawny, ugly, freckled girl that was usually staring back at me. Don’t get me wrong… I didn’t think my reflection was stunningly beautiful or anything, but I just… I just didn’t seem as downright ugly as I had remembered.
Could the Ugly Duckling finally be turning into a swan?