Monday, September 15, 2008

Glittered As She Walked

I would have given my right arm to be Micki Greene, which would have completely invalidated my purpose because Micki Greene lacked for nothing.

Eighteen-year-olds aren't mature enough to be called beautiful, but Mickey was headed that way. Her eyes were blue slate, her short, coiffed hair riotously blonde, and her complexion clear. She had the most adorable way of talking, in excited, almost lisping bursts that absolutely entranced me. There was something vulnerable and charmingly confused about Mickey. Pehaps she cultivated it, but it worked.

It was the first time I had encountered an actual person named Michaela, although nowadays, of course, the name is fairly common. But her name was not the only thing that made Micki unique. One way or another, she could always make everyone aware of her. I remember how we all laughed when Micki sneezed thirty-one times in a row from the upper back side of the auditorium during a particularly boring philosophy lecture. The teacher called her down, saying she was deliberately disturbing class, but we knew it was just Micki.

It was a wonder that this magical creature and I both lived in Cranfill, the oldest women's residence on campus, but I was there for economy while Micki was there for tradition. Her family was prominent and her father was rich. She wore pearls in her pierced lobes when no one else was even wearing earrings. She pledged Pi Phi and zoomed around in a powder blue MG sports car--illegally, of course, since only upperclasmen were allowed to have automobiles, which only added to the legend. Her handsome father regularly appeared to escort her and her roommate to dinner, and she talked casually of visiting her mother in places like Monaco and Madrid.

Micki may have acted confused, but she was no dummy. She was in the liberal arts honors program, although everyone knew she wasn't destined for Phi Beta Kappa. This was the era when prizes like Micki considered their college time well spent when they left after their sophomore year to marry up-and-coming young lawyers.

I think I ran into Micki on campus once more after our Cranfill stint, and she was as gracious and charming as ever, almost remembering my name.

Oddly enough, I was the one who married following my sophomore year, although, after getting my ears pierced for pearls, I did stick around long enough to pick up a history degree, magna cum laude, thank you very much. Somewhere between the laundry and the senior thesis, I have a dim memeory of reading in the newspaper society section that Micki had married an up-and-coming young lawyer in a lavish ceremony worthy of her.

My husband, who had gone to high school with her, said she was crazy.

Ten years later, my next bit of information about Micki came from a friend telling me about a total stanger, a woman named Micki, who had sat next to her during thir children's swim class and poured out her breaking heart about her cheating and abusive husband. Micki told my friend she had hired a lawyer out of Houstion who would cut her husband's balls off.

My friend's husband, who had known Micki's mild-mannered spouse since childhood, said Micki was crazy.

Ten years further down the line, when my oldest was in high school, I saw Micki again, at a high school football game. Her daughter was a cheerleader and my son warmed the bench. Micki entered the bleachers two rows ahead of my husband and me, and I recognized her immediately. Her short silver-blonde bob was now a long pewter-blonde braid, and her slender teen-age shape had rounded out into womanly curves. She was beautiful now, with that same charming aura of fragilty and confusion. Going with the current fashion, her skirt was romantically ethnic and she had topped her embroidered Mexican blouse with a long, trailing scarf.

Micki didn't have anyone to sit with at the game because by then she was divorced from her second husband too. I knew this from my friend, who passed on all the lawyer gossip, and because the year before I had seen a newspaper feature on Micki and her daughter--hard to tell which was which, of course--and Micki's house in a stylishly gentrified area of the city. The photographer and writer were ovbviously as entranced by Micki as I had been.

She picked her way down the row and finally set her stadium seat down beside some people she knew, expensive people with whom she could make references to old friends and old times. I caught a thread of their conversation now and then, but the couple seemes to tire of her and their replies became shorter and shorter. Finally they ceased altogether. At halftime the couple moved three rows down and across.

Micki, all alone, rocked herself back and forth on her stadium seat, lisping softly to herself as she played with her long, trailing scarf.

Micki was crazy.

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