She was the plain little sister of a friend and co-worker. Reticent to the point of invisibility. I was 18, she was 16. We met, briefly, and it was forgotten.

I always fall for the pretty ones, sucker that I am for the shiny surface. But the pretty ones either despised me, or, given the time to explore the person, became one half of a brief, failing mini-relationship, or just-a-friend.

The plain little sister didn't register on my radar. And her clique was not my clique; if our paths crossed, there was still mutual invisibility.

A bit later. There is now some overlap between our cliques - time changes things like that. I now have an impression of her - not especially favorable. But I'm oddly drawn to her, even though she's not the pretty one. "Y'know, plain little sister, that the new Godard flick is playin' at the film palace..." We go.

She was the combination of graceless physicality, a semi-grating voice, a truly grating laugh, and bad taste in music and clothes. As our months and years together passed, those things were no less true, but at the same time there was her beautiful un-self-conscious tomboy androgyny (but with child-bearing hips that called my name when they shook), an amazing where-the-fuck-did-that-come-from? husky voice that vibrated sexy things into me when we were in bed, and a singing voice - like an asthmatic Maureen Tucker - that caused me to melt adoringly when she sang along to her bad-taste music. After a while, it didn't matter what she wore - even when dressed in the hand-me-downs of some hippie fashion-victim ("surely you're not wearing that dashiki to the party?"), she was beautiful.

She became more than a girlfriend; we became each other's alter ego, with a telepathy that extended from the bedroom to the dance floor to the wilds of the woods.

"She is absolutely the most wonderful woman in the world", I thought to myself one day, as we were temporarily separated by geography. What have I done to deserve this? I nearly wept.

That was then.

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