Folk Speech

“She looked good from far, but far from good.”

            Sean is a college student who has spent all his life in Orange County, CA. He used this expression to describe to me a girl he doesn’t like too much. This is how he reworked his first impression of her after he got to know her. They started off as friends, but now they don’t get along. His interpretation of this expression is that it describes how wrong he was to think of her as a friend and also to describe how ugly he thinks she is.

            I think this expression allows him to turn something that could be seen as his poor judgment in character into something acceptable so that he is not seen as a fool for thinking she “looked good from far.” If she had looked bad from far, he wouldn’t have an excuse for being fooled. Also, it gives him the opportunity to insult her looks, which he probably thought were good when he first met her.