More than meets the eye

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2002

As a brand-new freshman at Troy State (low, those many years ago) I discovered one of my assigned roommates was a real bona-fide beauty queen.

I heard things like, "Oh, yeah, she's really gorgeous…she's been Miss So-and-So and Miss Such-and-Such…oh, she's s-o-o beautiful…"

Oh, great, I thought.

Email newsletter signup

Does she wear her tiara to bed?

Would I trip over her trophies on the way to the communal dorm bathroom?

Would there be any room for my stuff or would the sequined gowns and satin sashes take up all the space?

I was feeling kind of bummed out at the daunting prospect of living with this real-life Barbie.

My stomach plummeted a bit when I first met her.

She was indeed a lovely gal, this curvy, statuesque five foot, nine inch, green-eyed southern belle with a bevy of Charlie's Angels-like blonde layers, a peaches and cream complexion and a disarming dimpled grin.

A majorette for TSU's Sound of the South' Band, Gina Phillips was tall, graceful and gorgeous.

It was certainly enough to make clumsy, ordinary mortals

(i.e., yours truly) feel like a real plain Jane.

Of course, she couldn't go along with the prescribed stereotype of the dumb bleached blonde.

Oh, no, my life-size Barbie of a roommate had brains as well as beauty.

She was an honor student both at Opp High School and in college, where she pursued a degree in medical technology.

Yes, she was more than just a pretty face.

She was also smart, funny-and genuinely nice.

She helped me tame my sometimes-unmanageable thick hair by wielding an expert hand with comb and two sets of hot rollers (she obligingly threw in her own with mine) to give me coifs that were the envy of our sorority sisters.

(There are still days when I wish I had her and that spare set of rollers on hand.)

I learned how to do the model walk' and low and behold, got a chance to use it in an informal fashion show several years later.

While the difference in our heights made swapping pants a no-no but we could, and did, often share sweaters, blouses, t-shirts and other items. We also shared four years of late night raids on the fridge, boyfriend woes, goofy jokes, long study sessions and sisterly advice.

And every so often, to my amazement and delight, people would think we were sisters (and not just the sorority kind).

Yep, people are often more than what meets the eye.