Don’t run back inside
darlin’ you know just what I’m here for
So you’re scared and you’re thinkin’
That maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright
Oh and that’s alright with me
Springsteen, Thunder Road
The Boss’ fans tend to love that line, you ain’t a beauty, but hey you’re alright, finding humour in the protagonist’s seeming ambivalence towards his girl, but what is Springsteen really saying here?
He’s certainly not implying that the girl, Mary, is unattractive. No one woos a girl they’re not attracted to, certainly not with the determination of this song’s Rev-headed hero. No one (other than the smitten) uses the phrase ‘like a vision’. And few notice when an unattractive girl’s dress sways.
I think the truth we all know is that Mary is indeed a beauty; in the eyes of the protagonist at least. When I picture her, I see small town, ‘girl next door’ pretty. I see the kind of beauty that the unobservant sometimes call plain; the kind of beauty that suddenly bursts forth in the smile that lights up a room and eyes that glitter with secret delight.
I see my Jersey girl.
I fell in love before I really knew what she looked like, I think I’ve probably already mentioned that. And, of course, the same was true for her. Yes, we sent each other pictures, but pictures lie, or rather we are liars to ourselves – and the world – in the pictures we pick to represent us. It’s a subconscious process generally, a form of self-interested censorship and we are all guilty of it to one degree or another. Photos, therefore, give a sense of the person, but it is a woefully incomplete representation of the reality.
No, only when standing face to face can one see the true skin.
So, when the moment came, what did I see?
Remarkably, a perfect physical reflection of the extraordinary woman I’d come to know – and love – in the cyber realm. Her eyes were so deeply dark they were like near black pearls (the sort of eyes women once poisoned themselves with belladonna to achieve), becoming sparkling crescents whenever her lips formed a smile – and oh that smile.
Above all else, it was that smile.
When this jaded curmudgeon deigns to smile, it’s as if my cheeks must first become cranes, hoisting up the reluctant corners of my mouth. At such rare times, the rest of my face retains, at best, a pensive aspect; refusing to commit to the moment. By contrast, when Jersey girl smiles, her whole face joins in and it’s as if someone suddenly brought the house lights up in the middle of the show.
The moment I saw that smile, I knew I was lost. I was never going to be out of love again.
You ain’t a beauty Jersey girl, you’re the beauty and the light by which I now view my entire world.
So roll down that window and let the wind blow back your hair…