Wednesday, January 24, 2007
today, my face began to melt.
oh, okay. not really. it just looked like it.
i went to the dentist to get a little work done on my teeth, and that dear sweet Dr. S who clearly wanted me to feel absolutely no pain shot enough novocaine into the left side of my mouth to numb a horse...a Clydesdale. true. i felt no pain. i also felt something like absolutely no sensation whatsoever for the next 6 hours.
i left the office feeling like i had an enormous elephantine growth on the side of my face. my tongue could feel my lip, but my lip could not feel my tongue. i tried to put on chapstick, but to no avail; it ended up on my nose. i tried to smile at a small child on the street, but my left cheek would not rise to meet the latitude of the right. i did not match. i started covering my face whenever i wanted to laugh or smile b/c what if i didn't look attractive?!?!
i was disturbed.
what if! what if it STAYED THIS WAY. what if? what if there were some disastrous mistake, and he really DID give me enough novocaine to numb a Clydesdale, and i would be stuck this way for the rest of my life? i am a smiley person, goddammit! what if i can't smile for the rest of my life?!? this lopsided grin is not my smile! it's like a slack rubberband with teeth! i will be ugly and now no one will ever love me, ever ever ever.
listen. i don't consider myself any great beauty. i don't think i have a particularly fabulous face. Ford Modeling would not go under if my face fell off tomorrow and shattered into a million pieces. i can find any number of flaws in my visage if given the moment. it's huge. i have a little bit of an overbite, a little bit of an underbite. this, i think, makes me look wan and noble from one side, and a wee bit Billy Bob Thornton Slingblade-ish from the other.
despite all of this, i'm actually pretty okay with my face. of all the body image issues i've ever had, i never took much issue with my face. change the butt, the boobs, the thighs, the fingers, the toes, but for some reason, The Face and i have always been on pretty decent terms. there are even parts of it that i have grown to love (dimples, nose).
so, of course my pissy pessimistic thinking goes, the ONE PART OF MY BODY I'M OKAY WITH is going to be stuck this way forever because THAT'S JUST THE WAY SHIT WORKS OUT FOR ME, DOESN'T IT?!?! wouldn't THAT be poetic friggin justice?!? all this bellyachin' about my body, and my face goes kaput while all those imperfect parts chug along just fine.
when i finally emerged from my selfish panic, i thought of all those people who actually have suffered a trauma that alters their appearance permanently, not just for an afternoon. what a struggle that must be...to find yourself amidst the altered form in the mirror.
i think of my model-pretty mom who had to have her breast removed when she was 38-years old. as an 8-year old, you don't understand how it could possibly be such a big deal when you know that having that extra piece of flesh removed could save a mother's life, but as a grown woman, you do. in 24 years, those "extra piece(s) of flesh" have somehow become almost everything that is "woman" about you. bald and boobless, i suppose my mom had to find a way to redefine what it meant to be a "beautiful woman." she struggled with that, i know, but for her, i think her new definition involved lots of laughter, lipstick and a stash of Dove ice cream bars in the freezer.
of course, 'round about 7:30pm, i got pretty much all feeling back in my face. i could sip my cocktail without drooling. i could nibble a cookie without biting my lip. my left cheek rose to meet my right cheek in a happy little reunion called a smile.
oh good. there i am. right there in the mirror. phew.
oh, but not. that's not really me, is it? dear god, i hope not. i am no more my "decent" face than i am my "imperfect" body or my "blonde" hair. it fascinates me how very affected i was by this little experience, and i'm even a little ashamed at how very much i have come to identify me as my face, my smile, my hair, my appearance. and why?
duh. BECAUSE, silly girl, OUR CULTURE TELLS US SO.
it's up to us to take the metaphorical hand away from our face and laugh anyway...crooked mouth, crooked teeth, chunk of spinach in crooked teeth be damned.