When Walter Called Me Fancy

Years ago I dated a guy named Walter. He was the kind of guy who went out of his way to help people- he’d stop on the side of the road to fix someone’s flat and volunteered in a dozen different church ministries. Walter gave thoughtful, considerate gifts to everyone, even his ex-wife, and bounced fussy babies on his knee to give weary moms a break. In short, Walter was genuinely a nice guy.

But he had one little habit that drove me nuts. Walter called me fancy.

He’d come to pick me up for a date- Italian food, movie night, or a stroll through Windward Mall- and look me up and down. He’d take in my ankle length gypsy skirt, mascara-ed lashes, glittery lip gloss, and blow-dried hair and proclaim, “Well aren’t you fancy?”

Fancy.

An hour’s worth of effort and the best my love could come up with was “fancy”?

Ooo, did that ever grate.

Because all, ALL, I had ever wanted to be was beautiful.

Fancy is not beautiful.

Fancy is trying too hard. Fancy is short of the mark. Fancy gives a nod to “you tried” but graciously avoids mentioning “but you failed.”

It irritated me but, honestly, it didn’t surprise me. Who could blame Walter, really? Though I never would have said it aloud and though I wanted desperately to be wrong, somewhere deep down I believed that, because of my size, I could never be beautiful. I even wrote poetry about it.

Fat is Not Beautiful

Ask the fat girl, back curled into the corner, hugging her knees, chin tipped into her knees, hair a shield from the world. She knows.

Fat is not beautiful.

Ask the clown in the middle with the “great personality” wielding a bitter blade of humor, scalpel sharp, at herself. She knows. 

Fat is not beautiful.

Ask the eternal best friend, never lover, who counsels him through heartbreak and hugs him from behind a sympathetic mask. She knows.

Fat is not beautiful. 

Ask the thick-thighed mama who’s always been good enough to paw in dark corners but has never had her hand held in the street. She knows.

Fat is not beautiful. 

Ask me, the one who’s always claimed otherwise, who’s mastered strutting and swaying and preening as self-defense. I know. 

 

Walter and I didn’t work out for many reasons, but it was his “fancy” that stuck with me long after we broke up and changed my prayer life. I had long kept a list of the qualities I was looking for in a mate- taken straight from scripture. Years before Walter, when I realized my internal man picker was broken, I started searching the bible for a list of characteristics of a good husband- the male version of Proverbs 31. What I settled on was the list of qualifications for elders and deacons given in Timothy and Titus. I figured if those things were required for a church leader, then they ought to be good for the leader of a household.

Above reproach, faithful to his wife, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness,….

My list of more than 30 characteristics was what I used to size up a potential romance. My list had led me to believe that Walter might be the one. But something was missing.

After breaking up with Walter, I penned in one more quality that didn’t appear in any translation of scripture, “Let him find me beautiful.”

Dear God, I want to be beautiful. At least to the man I marry.

I prayed that prayer for over 7 years.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that God used that seven years to teach me a lot about true beauty: beauty comes from God not man, neither my mirror nor may scale can measure my worth, prettiness is not nearly as important as I thought it was, and not to wait until I’m thin to be beautiful. God first answered my prayer by gently, persuasively, and persistently revealing to me that he found me breathtaking. He had crafted me exactly the way I was and that he had done it exceedingly well.

Then God answered again and sent Jason.

Like Walter, my fiance Jason is an all-around nice guy. He’s the first person you call on when you need someone to help you move furniture or to rid your computer of viruses. He lives to be useful and genuinely loves people. I adore that about him.

But you know what else I love?

Jason can’t stop looking at me. He loves the way I look. Really and truly. It’s apparent when he steals glances at my profile as I drive and “likes” every selfie I post on Facebook. Best of all, he tells me all the time.

He’s got his own list. Words he uses to describe me: Lovely. Gorgeous. Stunning.

Jason has never called me fancy.

He has no need. To Jason, I am beautiful.

And you know what? He’s right.

 

Photo Credit: Fancy by Thomas Hawk. Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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