Invisible. That's what I was when I was with Nikki, my best friend. Ten years later and it's still with me.
She had some light inside her body, or something, that drew the guys to her like insects (which isn't such a bad comparison, right?)
The weird thing is, she was no prettier than I was. We were both smart, both capable, and neither of us were "easy" - - but there she was, center stage, while I hung back, kind of like her little sister, tagging along.
I've been thinking about this for a long time, and I'm pretty sure that now, after all these years, I'm on to Nikki's secret: Smile at the people, baby. Make yourself a star, and you will have fans.
I kind of liked myself, until I thought in terms of Nikki. Then I would get all paranoid and insecure and competitive. (Nikki competed right back, by the way, but always with a grin.)
I read in a magazine once that people are attracted to other people that make them feel good about themselves, important. And I saw Nikki doing this - she was an artist. She listened to every word people said, and responded, smiling, or leaning closer (I'm sure the guys liked this part, especially.) She would look right at you and laugh a lot, in this very feminine giggle. She was like an old-time Southern belle in one of those Civil War movies.
Another thing I remember is that Nikki was never bummed out in public. The face she showed 99% of the world was a happy one - she was like a cheerleader, always encouraging and energetic. I guess people were so involved with their own hang-ups that they kind of looked to Nikki "to forget about life for a while" - - she was like your very own personal "Piano Man".
All of this, of course, was very nice for Nikki - I suppose. But I felt myself shrinking into the background some more every day. I thought that I'd wake up one day and be part of the wall.
At the time, I thought I could learn from her, once I'd caught on to some of her magic charms. But I didn't want to be her, you know? I sort of liked that I was a bit of a mystery, that only the courageous, or older, guys were interested in me.
Of course, I also wished that I managed myself in a crowd the way Nikki did. She was always noticed, always invited everywhere, always confided in, and never dissed. I never once heard that anyone was mad at her, despite all of the attention she got. I don't need to tell you that this is a major accomplishment in the esteemed teen population.
You see where this is going - I kind of liked myself, until I thought in terms of Nikki. Then I would get all paranoid and insecure and competitive. (Nikki competed right back, by the way, but always with a grin.)
Know what I did about it? I worked on my smile, baby. And then I stayed me.
I'm still great friends with Nikki, only now, she's Dr. Nikki. But I'm not running out to med school just yet.