*I envision this being told from a woman’s perspective, but you can imagine whatever you want
I’ve been on exactly thirty-three dates, and none of them have lasted for more than one hour.
Why, you may ask?
Because I have strawberry legs.
Don’t know what that is?
Well, it’s a term one of my dad’s relatives used to describe my legs. They’re not red like strawberries or anything extreme like that. Strawberries’ seeds are on the outside and make it look like strawberries have polka dots. Well, my legs have polka dots on them like strawberries, and no, they are definitely not freckles; I asked my doctor. Simply put, my legs look like strawberries.
Going back to my crappy dating life, I always wore shorts or a cocktail dress on a first date to show off my legs. When it came to dates, my mindset was “if you can’t love me with my strawberry legs, you don’t deserve the rest of me.” At the start of every first date, I asked the person I was on a date with what their first impression was of me. If something negative was said about my legs, the date didn’t go any further.
To spare the depressing emotions from some of the things the guys said, I won’t repeat them.
Not only was I alone romantically, but I also didn’t have any friends. When fifth grade started, someone made a mean comment about my legs, and they didn’t stop after that horrible August day. No one dared to approach me throughout the rest of my schooling, and I didn’t bother with approaching any of my peers. I became the stereotypical kid you read about in books who sits by herself at lunch and gets engrossed in a book. Yeah, I was that kid.
The annoying teasing stopped when I went to a university in a completely different state. I graduated college with a degree in journalism (and a minor in film production). I had this dream of working for a magazine, like Cosmopolitan or Vogue; I wanted to inspire young girls with my writing. The addition of the film production minor was just to get financial aid off my back. All throughout college, I was still that kid. The only interaction I got that wasn’t with faculty was when I got in an argument with someone who tried to smoke weed and swim at the same time; I was a lifeguard at our student rec center.
Now I’m two weeks into my thirtieth year of life. I work for an online magazine, where I have the duty of searching the Internet and Food Network magazines for recipes that match the “vibe” of every issue we release. I live in a decently sized studio apartment in the part of San Francisco tourists try to avoid. I have a rambunctious golden retriever named Michey, named after Michelangelo, the greatest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle to exist. I also have a pet turtle that responds to the name Penny.
My special person and I adopted Penny about a year ago when she was just a couple of years old. Was that sentence correctly written? I don’t know.
Moving on to how I met two very special people in my life, one of them being the other parent of my pets/children.
One day (as any great story starts), I was taking Michey for a walk at one of our safer San Francisco parks, and right as I was leaving the park, I physically ran into a brother-sister duo that appeared to be about my age. I wasn’t using my cell phone, so I’m still not sure why I wasn’t paying attention. Fate maybe?
Anyway, as soon as I recovered from running into them, I looked down at Michey. Then I remembered my legs were showing. I was wearing shorts that day and wasn’t ready to face their ridicule, whether it be with a simple facial expression or verbal insults.
I quickly mumbled some apologies but was stopped by the sister of the duo when she said, “No worries. Cute shorts, by the way.”
Internally, I was freaking out in twelve different languages. Externally, I said, “Thank you” with a neutral expression.
Surprisingly, conversation spiraled from there, and next thing I know, we’re sitting on one of the sketchy park benches, having a good laugh while risking getting a disease. I found out their names were Jacoby and July; Jacoby is one year older than me, and July is one year younger than me. It turns out they both lived in my apartment building but in separate apartments; I checked to make sure there was no incest or anything happening since all the apartments in the building were studio apartments. July was my next door neighbor (not the one who obnoxiously blasts AC/DC because they remind her of her deceased partner) and had seen me around a few times. July said she wanted to talk to me, but every time she saw me, I had ear buds in. I stopped walking around with ear buds in after I met her.
Michey got restless after awhile, and the conversation began to die down. I exchanged phone numbers with Jacoby and July. However, before I could put my name in Jacoby’s phone, he snatched it from my hands.
“What are you doing? My name doesn’t start with an ‘S,'” I said as I looked over his shoulder while he typed away at his phone.
“I’m going to call you Strawberry, if that’s okay with you,” Jacoby responded without looking up.
“Why?” I replied with confusion. “Because of my ugly legs?”
That got him to snap his head in my direction. Jacoby lost himself in my eyes with his intense green ones before he cleared his throat and said, “I find your strawberry legs that you deem to be so ‘ugly’ are incredibly sexy.”
Jacoby’s statement left me dumbfounded, and before I could even come up with a halfway mediocre response, Jacoby and July were waving at me as they walked away.
Taking Michey for a walk that fateful day led to an incredible friendship with two extraordinary people and an incredible relationship with one of the two aforementioned people. I walked around with a new kind of confidence and courage and realized that not all humans are complete jerks, only a select, messed up few. The ridicule from the prominence of my strawberry legs used to make me feel insecure and killed every ounce of my self-esteem. Meeting Jacoby and July that day started my long journey of self-acceptance and finding the goodness in myself.
All it took was one fateful day.
Featured image by Jez Timms