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Why Really Good Looking Women Are Not Taken Seriously . . . Which They Can Use to Their Advantage

Gary North
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March 15, 2011

I have written about the Little Red Haired girl in my life. There was another. But I did not dream about her. I had to compete against her. I lost. Her name was Sandra Jennings.

I just found out she died two years ago. So, now I can go public.

She was a stunner. Breathtaking.


She was 3rd runner up in Miss America in 1958. She was a pianist -- a serious pianist.

In college, she was not taken seriously by at least some of the more academically inclined men. I knew differently.

I was in competition with her and several others in 1961 to get selected for Project India. Students were sent to India in the summer to represent the University of California. I really wanted to win. It took training: studies in Indian culture, plus two rigorous weekends of competition, the second being statewide: all of the preliminary finalists at the (then) five University of California campuses. I am competitive. I have been in tough competitions. This was really tough. I made it to the statewide finals.

Sandy went to India. I didn't.

Now, for obvious reasons, she beat me and several others. Who would you want to represent America to Indians, me or her? But what I recall most vividly is this: in the competition, she knew the history of Goa. In the spring of 1961, nobody else did.

Goa was a separate country run by Portugal. It was on the west coast of India, a holdover of the old empire system. In December 1961, India invaded it and absorbed it into India. But in the spring, who knew? She knew.

She was competitive -- not fiercely, just relentlessly. She was as sweet a girl as I have ever been torpedoed by.

I recall this. In our car trip up the San Bernardino hills to round one of the competition, one of the cars broke down. She was in it. I was sitting in the back seat of the functioning car. So, she had to sit on my lap. Lucky me, right? Very lucky. All bad.

As the car went up the winding road, my stomach began to churn. I had to ask to get out. I went to the side of the road and heaved. Then I got back into the car, and she got onto my lap.

This was not one of my shining moments.

She never mentioned it.

She met her husband on that trip to India. So, I'm glad she beat me. (I like to think that she beat me. Maybe one of the others did. I don't remember them at all. I remember her. Does this surprise you?)

She later went to the American University Law School and passed the bar.

Dumb broad, right?

Years later, I saw her on campus. I was in grad school. We got to talking. She wanted to know about money and inflation. So, I gave her a verbal outline. She seemed to understand what I was saying. I went home and wrote it up as an article: "The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Inflation," copying George Bernard Shaw's The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism. It was published by The Commercial and Financial Chronicle. But it came as a result of a conversation with a very intelligent woman.

Actually, I have known three like her. The third also passed the bar and was a feared assistant district attorney. Then she became an assistant attorney general for the state. If she and Marilyn Monroe had walked into a room, every man would have said, "Who's the girl with Marilyn -- the one who makes her look so scrawny?" Yet she was as nice a woman, and as dedicated to charitable nonprofit causes, as anyone I have known.

All three had highly successful marriages.

None of them was considered a brain . . . until the skeptic went into competition with one of them. Then it was, "Wha' happened?"

Why are good-looking women not taken seriously? Because of mathematics.

Say that you meet a woman who is not just a 10 in good looks -- she is one in 10,000. You think, "I've never met anyone like this before."

Say that she is one in ten in terms of intellect. She is now one in 100,000. (Remember permutations, computations and probability?)

Say that she is one in a hundred intellectually. Now she is one in a million.

What are the odds that you have even a chatting relationship with a one-in-a-million? (If you said "one in a million," go to the head of the class. But remember: you know more than one woman.)

Maybe these women were one in ten intellectually. Or maybe one in five. (The third one probably is one in a hundred.) The point is, people mentally play the odds until they face the music and get eliminated. "She can't be that good looking and smart, too."

She smiles. She is gracious. Then, suddenly, you're eliminated. "Thanks for playing. In the next round. . . ."

I recommend that women like this do what they do anyway. They smile. They are gracious. And they find out what Goa is.

The word on number 3 got out very fast among local defense attorneys. But how do you tell a jury this? "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this woman may look like Kim Novak [or whoever the equivalent is these days, if there is one], but she is going to make me look stupid. Don't be fooled. I'm just not as fast on my feet. But the facts are on my side. Don't get sucked in. I don't want you to think some ditsy blond is making me look like Barney Fife. She is not ditsy." All true, but you can't say this. And so, inevitably, you will look like Barney Fife.

For years, I wanted to tell Sandy that I respected her for her ability to master whatever competition she was involved in. That was why I finally did a Google search. Too late.

Tell them when you can.

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