Wallie the Imp and I were walking through campus to meet my Friend. Wallie has a marvelous skill for not being noticed by strangers, so I was able to keep him with me. I daresay everyone thought I was a little off center for walking about speaking rudimentary Impish, but I had out my mobile, my cell phone, as a prop, and that made it all better.
We hadn’t gone far when we saw a nice young couple sitting together, talking. They were very handsome. That made me think about what it is to be attractive, and how that kind of picture-perfection is quite beyond me.
“It isn’t easy,” I told Wallie. “Looking good takes practice. A girl can put on a lot of makeup, but it wears off in an hour or so, and then no boys will want to talk to you. You look like you fell out of a bin.”
Wallie the Imp told me that he would talk to me even if I had fallen out of a bin. He would want to know why I hadn’t stayed there.*
“Prince Charming has got to marry a beautiful princess,” I went on. “If he liked a girl like me**, awkward and bony and not at all smart, they’d think he’d lost his mind.*** I can imagine how awful it must be for sensible people with reputations to fall in love. Imagine mam’selle**** with a magnifying glass, trying to figure if the man she loves has the right nose or the proper measure of hair, and if his tie matches his eyes, and so on!”
Wallie said he likes me. So does my Friend.
“That’s my point,” I told him. “You’re both entirely insane. I’m insane, for talking to you! And what’s worse, I can’t imagine being interested in anyone else. That’s why I haven’t got many friends. They think I’ve lost my grip, my marbles, my sense. I don’t know what’s the matter with me!”
Wallie thought that was funny. He clapped his wee hands and began to recite:
Princess Iz sits on her throne.
Princess Iz is all alone.
“So long I’ve searched on land, by sea—
“Still I can’t find some One for me.
“The other girls say I’ll be late
“That Time is mad and Age won’t wait
“And really it’s a fantasy
“That there is a right One, for me.
“Too many books, too many songs
“Have flipped my head and taught me wrong.
“I pick and choose reality
“Make up what should but cannot be.”
And so with heavy head and eye,
The Princess Iz gives out a sigh.
For all their grace and royalty
No prince would suit her own fancy.
But bat-wing pair and lizard scale
That turns the pretty young things pale—
The Princess Iz alights to see
And says: “Now that’s the One for me.”
We had almost reached my Friend. He was sitting by himself on a bare old bench, his long scarf falling over his lap and dragging on the sidewalk. He had his cell in his hand and was working away with his thumb. I knew he wasn’t texting anyone. It was just playacting, so he wouldn’t look alone.
I took Wallie off my shoulder.
“You know,” I said, “I think you might be right.”