Lulu was not especially attractive. She had a fat lower lip that gave the appearance of an underbite and a round face that did not dress up well. She wore thick round glasses to compensate for atrocious eyesight and her hair was unremarkable.
Even so, Lulu could not imagine herself any differently. She had a demure confidence that silenced rabble-rousers and endeared her to professors and peers alike. She did not mind being shorter than average and she did not mind that she constantly surprised people. In fact, Lulu was generally satisfied.
Given these details, you might be forming a picture of this young woman in your mind’s eye, and you might be imagining Lulu as stocky or even fat. To the contrary, she was actually exceedingly athletic, fast and strong, thin but not skinny.
But of course, as is often the case with people, Lulu had a secret. Although on the surface of her life she lived as the prototypical overachiever, what lay beneath was much more interesting; Lulu was a boxer.
Maybe this is hardly a revelation of great intrigue to most of you, but imagine the prototypical overachieving female. Now imagine her being short and unattractive. And lastly imagine her boxing, in secret, almost as if she were a superhero whose alter ego was a supremely talented boxer. There can be no argument: objectively, it is an interesting facet of her person. And the secrecy was indeed essential. Lulu’s parents were pacifists. They believed in the Beloved Community, and had studied the writing and rhetoric of great nonviolent thinkers from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Gandhi to Henry David Thoreau. During family arguments, they whispered and took turns expressing their viewpoints. It was and always had been clear to Lulu that violence was never even a last resort, let alone an option.
Lulu agreed that such beliefs are well and good within certain bounds, but she had been the frequent witness to bullying. Though her calm aura generally exempted her from the harassment of larger, less intelligent students, she was deeply disturbed by the pummeling of her nerdier colleagues throughout her childhood. It was after an especially frustrating assault, in which a boy named Adam pulled the hair of a girl named Tara and threw her books in an arc across the sidewalk, that Lulu made the decision to become tough.
There is no doubt that she recognized the difficulty of explaining her decision to her parents when she arrived at home and recounted the tale. Her mother frowned lightly and inclined her head, explaining that in the future, Lulu and Tara should either avoid such confrontations, or sit down quickly, putting their hands behind their necks for protection and holding their knees to their chests. Lulu was indignant, but she was the abiding type and she did not argue. Her father smiled and patter Lulu’s mother on the back, agreeing with her implicitly.
And so Lulu set out to learn power. She looked into a number of options before she was able to find an instructor who understood the predicament and agreed to train her in secret. Over the years, Lulu developed skills that far exceeded the average for her age group and sex. She became an expert and when she competed, she won invariably. Unfortunately, due to the private nature of her hobby, she only exhibited her talents occasionally in matches and even less often in the street.
By the time she graduated from high school, Lulu guided herself through most of her maintenance training and only met with her instructor in the week before matches, for which she found time only every couple of months. Her boxing had become quite the secret life, but she continued to excel on the surface and hardly anyone suspected anything unusual.
You must be thinking you would have noticed, if you had known her, that such a thing could never go unseen for so long. I will only remind you that serial killers often go years unsuspected.
In any case, Lulu’s graduation meant freedom and she was suddenly allowed to box as much as she pleased. She began to compete regularly and over her first semester, she was undefeated in her amateur league, which allowed boxers to wear character masks during competition. It was obviously a promotional stunt to bring in more support from cultish communities that would become excited by characters coming up against one another in bouts, but it is also immediately obvious to us why such a feature would be attractive to Lulu. She could box freely in this league, with a literal mask. She could even reinvent herself as someone she could never be in outside world, where she could never cover her brutish face. She could become someone cute, someone adorable in her small stature and with her lower lip and unremarkable hair masked. So Lulu, in the midst of designing her costume, had a grand idea. She decided to call herself The Cuteness, seeing it as an opportunity to encompass cuteness when she entered the ring, to be all the cuteness she could not be without her mask. She mastered a bobbing curtsy and a sideways glance. And her mask was soft and fluffy, fitting over her head with holes for her eyes shaped like a kitten’s big almond eyes. She even learned to wear contacts for the matches, when before she had strapped on a massive pair of goggles.
Her transformation, made before her fame, was entire. She went from frumpy to darling in the changing room and then she brought the pain.
As her skill and anonymity became renowned within the boxing world, boxers from other leagues began to take notice. Lulu realized that larger crowds were attending her matches and she found herself challenged by boxers outside her own league, who wanted to fight the legendary Cuteness. No one believed that such an adorable little sprite could unleash a knockout, but she did it, time and time again.
Which is actually the moral to this story; Cuteness always wins by KO.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Brad MacDonald challenged me with “Cuteness wins by KO,” and I challenged Mahesh Kumar with “Emulate Disney.”