If only it weren’t so compelling to call it something

“Essentially, it transcended Ryan, for whatever Hortense claimed, Clara was a teenage girl like any other; the object of her passion was only an accessory to the passion itself, a passion that through its long suppression was now asserting itself with volcanic necessity. Over the ensuring months, Clara’s mind changed, Clara’s clothes changed, Clara’s walk changed, Clara’s soul changed. All over the world girls were calling this change Conny Osmond or Michael Jackson or the Bay City Rollers. Clara chose to call it Ryan Topps.”

—White Teeth, Zadie Smith, pp 32

The thing is, though, that Clara didn’t choose to call it Ryan Topps. She defaulted into it. Once it wasn’t scary to call it hers, I wonder who she would have chosen, blinders off and looking around.

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