The Swan

At school I was lucky, I was one of the popular girls. We thought we were cool. We smoked, played truant and acted up in class. All the guys loved us, we were fun, good looking, wore all the latest fashions and we were rebels. We dated all the best looking guys and were envied by quite a few less popular girls. I know all of this sounds big headed, but that’s the way it was. We never bullied anyone, except teachers, or looked down on anyone, we were basically out for fun and laughs. Life was great.

At fifteen, the local youth club was the place to be. It offered sports, quizzes and discos every Sunday night. We planned for the disco all week, what we would wear, how to do our make up, whom we would try to hook up with, and usual stuff.

One day, in English, I happened to catch sight of Tony. Tony had been in my class every year since starting school at 4 years of age and we had never spoken to each other. I had never given him a thought up until now. He was so quiet; you would forget he was around. He was painfully shy, probably due to the fact that he had always worn really strong glasses. He wasn’t too bad looking; just his glasses sort of took over all of his other features. I just couldn’t stop looking at him all through that lesson.

The lesson finished and I forgot about Tony, until I went to bed that night and he appeared in my thoughts again. I thought back to him being 4 years old with his thick, black NHS glasses. When had he got those silver frames?  Did he go to the youth club? Did he have many friends? Why was I thinking about him?

Next day he was still in my thoughts and I found myself looking out for him at school. I realised he was in quite a few of my lessons and each time I would sneak glances at him. He always had his head bent over his books, really close, probably because of his eyesight. I also discovered that he did go to the youth club, he was taking boxing lessons. He also had a lot of friends and a younger brother, Marty, with the same thick glasses.

I started to notice other things about Tony, like his golden hair, his perfect white teeth, his perfect physique and his tiny blue eyes behind those thick, thick glasses. Once or twice I tried to start a conversation with him, but he was so shy and blushed straight away after giving me a quick reply. I was still cool and still dating different popular guys, but each day I was finding myself more attracted to Tony. The more distant he appeared, the more attractive I found him.

Up until now I had never mentioned Tony to anyone but when I started dreaming about him I thought I would tell my friends. At first they didn’t know whom I meant, so I pointed him out. They all looked at him, then at me with their mouths open in horror.

“You cannot be serious, HIM, he is gross, look at his jam jar glasses, he is hideous”.

This was why I had refrained from telling them, I had anticipated this kind of reaction, but it only made me protective towards him and like him even more. I think Tony knew something was going on as word spread quickly that I had the hots for him and there was a lot of whispering, nudging and staring. Eventually one of the guys asked me if it was true, did I fancy Tony, and I said yes, I did. Even he was shocked and proceeded to tell all the other guys.

Poor Tony, just the kind of attention he detested. It made him even shyer and he totally avoided me.

My friends thought I was joking and soon found something else to talk about, except Jenny, she said,” you really do like him don’t you”, I told her about how I had just noticed him one day in English lesson and how, since then, I had noticed a lot of things about him that I found very attractive. I asked her not to say anything to him, but she did. She told him everything and asked him if he would be interested in dating me. He told her he would and that he would meet me at the youth club disco on Sunday.

Sunday came and there we were, done up to the nines in our best gear. I saw Tony sitting in the corner on his own so I plucked up the courage to go over to him. I sat down next to him and tried to have a conversation, but the music was too loud, all of a sudden he took my hand in his and said,” Stacey, will you come outside with me for a minute, I want to talk to you”.

We went outside and he stood against the wall with his head down, “ Stacey, I know people have told me you really like me but I need to know if this is some kind of joke. I really don’t want to end up looking like a fool. I can’t understand why you would be attracted to someone like me when you could have any guy you wanted”.

“Tony, I can’t believe you think I’m capable of hurting someone like that. I find you really attractive and I would like to get to know you better. I would like for us to go out together, but if you aren’t comfortable with that then I am happy just to be friends with you”.

Tony blushed and muttered,” no, I would like to go out with you”, and he took my hand. I instinctively moved closer to him and looked in to his eyes, and then I kissed him. He responded, nervously at first, but then with such tenderness I had never experienced before. My whole body tingled with his touch. I accidentally knocked his glasses and he went to take them off, saying he knew they would get in the way, but I stopped him and said I would have to get used to them.

We decided not to go back inside and to go for a walk instead where we chatted about everything.

Tony told me he was very self-conscious about his glasses and never thought he would ever get a girlfriend because of them. He said his eyesight was terrible without them, his Rx was –15, not that I knew what that meant but I knew it must mean strong.  I really wanted to ask him to take them off so I could see what his eyes looked like without them but I decided to wait until he took them off. I didn’t have to wait long, the next day at school an ex boyfriend of mine threw a punch at Tony and before long they were well and truly fighting. In the process Tony’s glasses got knocked off, but his boxing lessons had paid off and he emerged the victor. I grabbed his glasses, luckily undamaged, and had a good look at him before he put them back on. He was unscathed by the incident and had also gained the reputation of someone not to be messed with, as well as letting me see his myopic eyes staring around vacantly. What a beautiful sight, I felt so proud to be his girl.

Eventually everyone accepted us as a couple, even though it came as a shock to many. Me, the loud, popular, disruptive girl and Tony the quiet, shy boy, but we were good for each other. Tony seemed to gain more confidence when he realised my feelings for him were genuine and I had proved to everyone that looks weren’t everything and also that guys in glasses were hot.

Over the next couple of years we were inseparable and deeply in love. Tony’s eyesight kept getting worse but the eye doctor assured us that within a couple of years it would stabilise and I loved it when he got new glasses, the expression on his face was always priceless. Crisp, clear vision.

We both left school and started work. Tony was an apprentice toolmaker and I was an apprentice hairdresser. I also did some modelling, mainly for hair magazines. We made plans for our future together, how we’d buy a house, get married, have a couple of kids, the usual stuff. Even my parents had finally accepted the fact that he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Initially they weren’t happy, they considered his myopia a handicap and said that any children we may have could inherit his eyesight problem. They could be quite shallow at times.

I started to get more modelling jobs and got offered the chance to model for a top magazine, it was the opportunity I had been waiting for. I had to go away for three days. I said a passionate goodbye to Tony, blissfully unaware of the heartache, which lay ahead.

I had a great time and the photo shoots went well, everyone was really pleased with me, but within those three days, some nasty, jealous person had told Tony that I had been sleeping with someone else. He was devastated and when I got home, a letter was waiting for me from Tony. In it, he said he wanted nothing more to do with me. I couldn’t understand why. I tried to see him but he had moved south and had left instructions not to give me his number. I wrote to him, via his parents, asking why he had ended our relationship, no reply.

I tried to contact him for weeks and finally gave up. I was heartbroken, so when I was offered a modelling contract in another city, I accepted. I did very well for myself, I bought a house, a new car and I was never short on dates with the most handsome men you could ever imagine, a lot of them models, but I wasn’t interested in any other men. My heart belonged to Tony and to embark on another relationship would be unfair.

Two years passed and I had never been back home so when my parents begged me to come home for Christmas I agreed. We went out for a family meal to a local restaurant. After we had eaten, I made my way to the ladies room and saw Tony’s brother sitting at a table. I decided to say hello. We made pleasant conversation and then I mentioned Tony. At this his face clouded over. He told me that Tony had been devastated at my “affair” and felt the only way to cope was to run away. He had never been in another relationship since me, as he couldn’t stand the thought of getting hurt again. I was horrified. What affair?

I told Marty my side of the story, and how I hadn’t had another relationship since Tony. Marty found the whole situation really sad and said he would get in touch with Tony and tell him what I had said. He also planned to find the source of this vicious rumour.

True to his word, Marty did find out that it was honest, friendly, trustworthy and a very jealous Jenny that had lied to Tony, she admitted that she made the story up, mainly due to jealousy, but also as a sick joke. She didn’t realise she had caused so much trouble. Marty had phoned Tony and told him. He said he needed a few days to think things over.

A day later Tony called me. We both started crying at the sound of each other’s voice. When we had calmed down, we arranged to meet the following weekend, outside the youth club. I was a nervous wreck, but my nerves vanished as soon as I saw him. Forget all of those perfect models here was a real man. We hugged each other so tightly; we never wanted to let go. That evening was spent catching up on the past two years. Tony had worked his way up to tool room manager and had also bought a house. I knew I would never let him go again and I was willing to sacrifice everything to have him back in my life. I told him I wanted to move in with him and he was ecstatic, but he thought it only fair for us both to make a fresh start.

We sold our houses and bought one in our hometown. Tony found work and I opened a hairdressing salon. I still did modelling part time and when I was asked to do a “couples” shot, I asked that Tony be the other half of the couple. My agency asked for a photo of him, which I gave them. They then asked for a photo of him without his glasses, which I declined to send. I told them that it was him in glasses or forget it. They chose to forget it. So I chose to reject that shoot.

Reluctantly they said they would give him a go and see how we looked together.

Of course we looked amazing, Tony was very photogenic and even the agency were impressed. They had never used anyone with such a high Rx before, but they admitted he looked so sexy. They put Tony on their books and soon a big optical company snapped him up.

He ended up getting more modelling work than me and he loved it.

The ugly duckling had unleashed the beautiful swan.