First off, sorry it's taken me so long to post this. I was teaching a writing workshop at BYU (the subject of my next blog) and fell into bed every night around midnight. But let me say I was blown away by all the responses I got to the Mind-Rain give-away. Should I be offended that I didn't get 56 comments the last time I gave away one of my books? Hmm. I will tell myself that it was due to the interesting nature of the question and not the fact that you all like Scott Westerfeld better than me.
I was surprised with the thought provoking and often poignant responses that so many of you gave. I was also surprised that most people took the five years, hands down.
Apparently the rest of you are not nearly as vain as I used to be. I still remember those awkward years when I had braces, glasses, hair that I had no idea how to style, and zero fashion sense. Not surprisingly, I also didn't have a lot of self confidence and social situations--like talking to guys--baffled me. (Really, if I dug out my eighth grade picture and posted it here, you would understand. But I'm not putting that out on the Internet. Nope. Sorry. You'll have to use your imagination.)
During high school I shook off the feathers of the ugly duckling years, and it was like a whole new world opened. Guys paid attention to me. Girls treated me with more respect.
True story: (which will sound like bragging but is really just illustrating a point)I went to visit my parents in California one year when I was about 21. They were renting a house and the (fairly young) landlord was constantly rude to them,complaining to them about this or that and not taking care of things that needed to be fixed.
So during my visit, the landlord rang the bell and I answered the door. He looked at me with this sort of stunned expression on his face and mumbled that he was there to take care of a few things. My parents introduced me to him and he was completely nice to everyone while he went about taking care of his landlord things.
After he left, my parents laughed about the change in him and told me I should visit more often, but it puzzled me. Clearly, the landlord changed his behaviour because there was a pretty girl around even though there was no actual benefit for him to do so. I never saw him again. But it did teach me that being pretty is like going through life with bonus points. I liked that. I never wanted to lose it. If really given the choice when I was young, I would have gone for beauty instead of the five years.
(I tried to find a picture of me when I was young--but where the 80's hair wasn't too prominent. Don't ask me what I was doing with my arms.)
That said, one day as I was getting ready for college classes, I realized it was a trick question. In between clothes shopping, clothes ironing, showering, shaving, blow-drying, hair-curling, and putting on make-up, I realized that I probably would spend more than five years of my life "beautifying" myself. I'd already made the choice.
Now in my older years, I make the opposite choice. I can't tell you how many days I walk around looking like a bag lady because I'm so intent on getting my writing done. These days, I take the time over beauty.
Still it's made for some interesting discussion here and also as I've visited my daughter this week. You can actually get a lot of mileage out of those five-year jokes.
Me walking into the room looking like something the cat dragged in: Hi!
Her: So, I see you've decided to take those five years back.
Gotta love her.
Anyway, it was hard to pick a winner because everyone was so profound. Really. I'm in awe of all of you. But I'm going to go with Jenilyn because I liked the way she picked the beauty but made it look like she was doing it for altruistic reasons. (making life easier for the nursing staff.) I think it was a reason New Pretty Town could totally support. So, Jenilyn, send me your snail mail at rallison 1 at cox dot net. And I'll send you you're book!
And the rest of you--I'm proud of you! Just don't waste your five years watching tv.