When we transferred our son to a lovely little private school in our lovely little town, I anticipated droves of beautiful people rejecting me on a daily basis. Our town has a reputation for being, well, snotty. I expected the school to be a microcosm of that snootiness. And there were beautiful people alright. There was one woman who looked a lot like Jerry Hall, model-tall with long blonde hair. She was always dressed– even at 7:30 in the morning–as if she were going somewhere cool, somewhere I would be forced to stand in line behind the velvet rope. She wore the funkiest clothes—tight, brightly patterned pants with snakeskin cowboy boots, fabulous ponchos and big hats. I never saw her without perfect makeup, fresh lipstick, and every hair in place. I hated her guts.
How surprising to find that she was a wonderful human being, with the same political sensibilities as I, and two children who became good friends with mine! I was sad when she moved away and have missed her since. She was not the only one. There was also the woman in the pick-up line driving the black Mercedes convertible that every day looked like it was just driven off the lot, all shiny and new. She was incredibly fit and very pretty, and we bonded over our mutual crush on Hillary Clinton, and our grudging acceptance of the eventual nominee. A year later, my daughter transferred to the same school, which meant another whole grade of parents. When she knocked out her front teeth after slipping on rocks at the beach, it was the tennis player, a very southern-California looking, natural beauty with perfect white teeth, who went out of her way to offer sympathy for my daughter and share the story of having lost her own teeth in a horrific car crash when she was in college.
This pre-judging works the other way, too. If I had dismissed another based on her quirky appearance, I would have missed some of the most insightful observations and helpful advice of my life. There are plenty of people who live up to our low expectations. But let’s assume they are there to make the surprises all the more pleasant.