Shock and Awe

by Leon
(Littleton, CO)

The first time I saw 'Jenny', in an art gallery, I almost turned and walked the other way. I'd seen pretty women before, but I had never experienced what I felt when I saw her. Looking at Jenny the first time was like seeing beauty for the first time. A Mona Lisa after a life of stick figures and finger painting. Jenny was something beyond pretty.


I had never thought of myself as an attractive man, and for that reason beauty frightened me. In a world where good looks were power, I was powerless, and the woman before me was in charge, so I reflexively prepared to become invisible, just as I had always done, to slither past, around, and beyond her gaze, where I could regroup. I was only going to get one chance to make a first impression.

I found a restroom, splashed my face, cleared my mind, and slowed my pulse. I reappraised myself, and told my reflection that none of the fear I felt was real, or at least wasn't based in reality. I'd missed opportunities before, virtually all of them out of fear. Well, even if I was afraid, I could certainly pretend not to be. After more than a few deep breaths, I stretched my cheeks into a confident smile, walked back out into the room, and met the woman I would marry and who, twenty years later, is still just as pretty today as she was all those years ago.

If I had not, at that moment, reversed my habitual thought process and decided to do something instead of doing nothing, well, I have no interest in even going there. Because in one moment, when changing my thinking changed the direction of my life, I created a future for two wonderful children.

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