During the 80s my friend's sister was a stunning figure who could turn heads. She looked like she had stepped out of a magazine; slim, long blond hair and heels that could be used as a weapon if so desired.
Then, one day I called around and she was hanging washing in the back garden. She had her back towards me and I saw her long blond hair blown in the breeze but when she turned around I was speechless. It was one of those awkward moments when you don't know what to say. Her eyebrows and other features were bare, totally devoid of cosmetics and I didn't recognise the face I was looking at except for the baby-blue eyes staring back at me. Her features had disappeared, a pale blank canvas surrounded by pale hair. She would have given the villains from 'Matrix Reloaded' a run for their money.
That summer, we didn't see much of my friend's sister; she had a boyfriend and I used to think would he ever see her without her slap. He didn't last long but she dumped him and I found her one day in a flood of tears.
"Why me?" she sobbed and I was immediately transported into a world where even the beautiful people have troubles.
"What's happened?" I asked, once again totally mesmerised by a totally white and featureless face.
"I went to his house last night..."
It was a while before she could resume, then...
"It was all romantic, the way it's supposed to be. Wine, music, soft candlelight and then, he said he would slip into something more comfortable."
There was silence for a moment and she released a huge sigh.
"I was thinking: 'surely that should have been my line' when he was suddenly in the doorway and I screamed."
I dreaded what she would say next, thinking that the police may have to hear this.
"What did he do?" I asked, hesitantly.
"He didn't do anything," she groaned, "he just stood there, dressed in a red silk basque with fishnet stockings."
"So what on earth did you do?"
Once again, she had surprised me.
"I fled, knocking him out of the doorway."
"You did right! But, didn't you ask him why he dressed like that?"
She shot me a look.
"No I did not! And, now all I can see when I close my eyes are the thick curly hairs sticking out of his fishnets!"
She then looked at me with watery blue eyes that would look better on a baby seal and I smiled.
"Well, for whatever reason he dressed like that you're better off without a bloke who would dip in and out of your wardrobe for the rest of your life."
And then we both laughed through tears of a different kind.
Years later, she saw him again. She was temping in an office and guess who the boss was? Suited and booted, the very picture of respectability. She lasted one day.
It is very rare I meet someone without a facade of one kind or another, maybe not as drastic as the two I've told you about but nevertheless, a cover to enhance or hide. Perhaps they need it so that they can be more than they are or believe it will take them to exciting places. I wonder if in this case, one facade misread the other?