The Beautiful People: Where are they now?
Special to Stars and Stripes January 19, 2024
It happened on a whim. We were trying to be spontaneous. We thought they’d think it was funny. We showed up at our new friends’ house unannounced at 10:30 on a Saturday morning. They were not amused.
It was the late ‘90s and my Navy husband, Francis, and I had been married for only three years. We were stationed at Joint Analysis Center, Molesworth, England, where Francis worked watches while I cared for our baby boy in our rented village house.
Through Francis’ work, we’d met other young military couples, who we believed, naively, would become our friends, even though they didn’t have kids yet. They were still in that blissful stage of marriage when couples sleep late on weekends, stay out until the wee hours and fool around wherever and whenever the mood strikes.
Francis and I, on the other hand, were strapped with the responsibility of caring for a tiny, helpless human. To fit in, we faked devil-may-care attitudes, but our ever-present diaper bag, sensible shoes, Graco stroller and Cheerio-adorned hair were dead giveaways. Although our ages were the same, the differences between us was a vast chasm they were unwilling to cross. We had to make the effort.
On that fateful Saturday morning when we showed up at the young couple’s house, we had envisioned them answering their door with wide smiles, exclaiming, “It’s Francis and Lisa! What a fun surprise! Come in and stay a while!” We thought we’d chat and laugh, while our son toddled around. Maybe the guys would take our son to the park, while the other wife and I made food for a barbecue. It would be a blast, and we’d end up being such close friends, one day our kids would call them aunt and uncle.
Uh, not so much.
“Hey! It’s us! The Molinaris!” came like a slap to the poor husband when he opened his door. He asked us to wait outside, and we heard low voices coming from upstairs. We knew we’d botched it, but it was too late to turn back. The couple reappeared, wearing manufactured smiles, but with crossed-arm body language that communicated irritation. After awkward chitchat, we hightailed it home.
From thence forward, I labeled the young social group whose attention eluded us, “The Beautiful People.” It wasn’t that they were physically attractive. They were simply charmed individuals with that je ne sais quoi — they drank good wine, scored tickets to Wimbledon, went skiing and drove trendy cars — that rendered them socially untouchable.
We never truly bonded with the young crowd at JAC Molesworth, but some fun parents with teenage children took mercy on us. We hung out together casually on weekends, cooking meals, trying out pubs, playing cards, hosting parties. They didn’t care about our diaper bag, and we didn’t care that they were older. They’d all been there, done that, and had hilarious stories to prove it. Our son never called them aunt or uncle, but we’ve remain friends for almost three decades.
In the years that followed our England tour, we met Beautiful People at every duty station — Norfolk, Stuttgart, Mayport, Newport. Each time, we tried to win them over, but eventually, we ended up feeling rejected and resigned ourselves to the fringes. It was there where we met our true friends, the people with whom we stay in touch to this day.
Francis’ Navy community was quite small, so we occasionally cross paths with the Beautiful People from our past. Interestingly, the ravages and rewards of time have erased any perceptions of popularity. Somewhere along the way, the important things in life took precedent over social hierarchies, as we all endured deployments, raised families, changed ranks, paid mortgages, watched our skin wrinkle and our hair fall out and tried to keep our marriages intact through it all.
Where are the Beautiful People now? Their holiday update letters may have been plastered with glowing superlatives and glossy, professionally retouched photos, but the Beautiful People have been busy handling ups and downs, career disappointments, health conditions and at least one kid with “issues,” just like the rest of us. Turns out, we have more in common than we ever knew.
Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email: email@example.com