At seventeen

(Janis Ian)

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I learned the truth at seventeen.
That love was meant for beauty queens,
and high school girls with clear skinned smiles,
who married young, and then retired.
The valentines I never knew.
The Friday nights charades of youth,
were spent on one more beautiful.
At seventeen I learned the truth.
And those of us with ravaged faces,
lacking in the social graces,
desperately remained at home,
inventing lovers on the 'phone,
who called to say 'Come dance with me'
and murmured vague obscenities.
It's isn't all it seems at seventeen.
A brown eyed girl in hand me downs,
whose name I never could pronounce
said 'Pity please the ones who serve.
The only get what they deserve'
In the rich relationed hometown queen,
marries into what she needs.
With a guarantee of company,
and haven for the elderly.
Remember those who win the game,
lose the love they thought they gained,
in debentures to quality,
and dubious integrity.
Their small town eyes will gape at you,
in dull surprise when payment due,
exceeds accounts received at seventeen.
To those of us who knew the pain,
of valentines that never came,
and those whose names were never called,
when choosing sides for basketball.
It was long ago, and far away.
The world was younger than today,
and dreams were all they gave for free,
to ugly duckling girls like me.
We are play the game, and when we dare,
to cheat ourselves at solitaire.
Inventing lovers on the 'phone.
Repenting other lives unkown,
that call and say 'Come dance with me'
and murmer vague obscenities,
at ugly girls like me, at seventeen.