Written as part of my column for Platform
When I was thirteen, my mother gave me the talk. It changed my life forever.
“Karley,” smiled my mother, laid out on her bright yellow beach chair. “It’s time.” We were on our annual family vacation to the New Jersey shore, and she loved taking these sunny opportunities to teach me “life lessons.” It made her feel wise.
“You’re a teenager now,” she continued, “which means there are some things you aught to know. Pretty soon you’re going to start having feelings for boys. That is, unless you’re a lesbian. But let’s just pray to Jesus that won’t be a cross we have to bear.” She adjusted her massive hat to shade her green eyes. “But like I said, you’re reaching the age where it’s perfectly normal to want to experiment with the opposite sex. So, my darling, let me give you this one piece of advice. My mother taught me this I was about your age, and it was the greatest thing I ever learned. Always go for ugly men.”
These abstract bits of information- this is what my mother lived for. She was never afraid to tell you the one thing everyone else was too embarrassed to say. She was constantly telling strangers when they had bits of food stuck in their teeth.
“Ugly men love you more because they feel lucky to have you,” she said, taking a bite of watermelon. “Beautiful boys have too many options. They’ll use you for sex and then get bored. You want a man who is going to worship the ground you walk on.”
I nodded my head. She looked so pretty in her red polka dot bathing suit that I would have believed anything she said.
“Now, let’s play a game,” she smiled. “As boys walk by along the beach, you say whether or not you’d like to go out on a date with them, and I’ll tell you whether you’re right or wrong. Sound fun?”
“Ok, what about him?” She pointed to a blonde boy in red swimming trunks, about fifteen-years-old. “You like him?”
“I think so,” I said. I did sort of think the boy was cute, but I didn’t want to commit to a definite yes or no, because I was terrified of what would happen if I got the wrong answer.
“See,” she sighed, looking disappointed. “I was afraid of this. Karley, he is far too good looking for you. Look at that flawless bone structure! Now let’s try again. What about him?” She pointed to a boy whose face was covered in bright red pimples.
“Yes,” I said, feeling confident with my answer. “I would like to go on a date with him.”
“No no no!” she shouted. “Acne is only a temporary ugliness! It can clear up. You have to look past blemishes and find a man who is truly ugly. Not the kind of ugly you can fix- like a crooked nose or a bad choice of facial hair- but the kind of ugly that lasts forever.” She looked down at me with her big, knowing eyes. “Don’t you want to lead a happy life?”
“Well then remember what I said, because no one likes a pathetic woman.”
This knowledge stuck with me, and as I grew older, more and more I realized the weight of her words. In high school, instead of lusting after mindless jocks, I gave science nerds blowjobs in-between classes. They always said thank-you afterward. At prom, rather than waiting desperately for some Adonis to ask me to dance, I danced with the one guy no one else would go near. I got the biggest bouquet of flowers. To this day I’m still playing by the rules, and I’ve yet to have my heart broken.
Sleeping with someone ugly always makes you feel more beautiful in comparison.
Recently, I met a boy who claimed that unattractive people are better in bed. He said, “ugly people have to compensate for the way they look, so they try harder.” I said I didn’t know because I’ve only ever been with ugly people. But I did agree that, yes, most of the men I’ve slept with have been very proficient.