The durable Durham, Nancy was beige and sturdy; partners in the 4th grade math book of long column addition. She flashed through her pages with her stubby graphite and left the mirrored pages blank
for me to finish. She was poor and smart. I was intimidated by her math prowess.
I saw her house once for a birthday party in her backyard. I went inside to snoop. Her living room was dark and empty and sad. They had taken all the
furniture out on to the backyard for the party. There was only one tiny window on the front by the door. The shade was pulled.
I didn’t want to see her bedroom. I might have cried.
Outside, under the big elm tree she had a
tire swing. I was glad she had that. And then I remembered the long columns of numbers and I was all of a sudden so tired just thinking of her big clumsy durable hands that could somehow write numbers to keep up with her quick mind.
finished my part of the math book eventually and spent the summer painting my nails first dark Revlon red and then a pale baby blue. I interspersed that with an attempted paint by numbers picture of a boat. I liked the smell of the nail polish and the
oil paints and never did finish the painting.
Then I read the Nancy Drews; all of them. Someone bought me one I hadn’t read. Nancy was my hero. I wanted to be this Nancy. I wanted to be a daddy’s girl and solve important mysteries.
I painted my nails again and was glad I didn’t have to do any more math. I didn’t have to see Nancy the durable again until the fall.
Later in life another Nancy had laid claim to the man I loved. She was dark and cute and
shady. I was not. I was intimidated.
From the big boned through the sleuths to the cute and shady, all the Nancys intimidated me; all having qualities I admired but didn’t possess.