(originally posted 3/27/2019)
Had it really been two years?
Had it really been twenty six years?
The former since he caught a shotgun blast to the face. The latter since he slid down his mom’s birth canal and out into the world. He hadn’t even cried. He’d simply lifted an eyebrow at the doctor and given him a knowing wink. The nurse blushed.
At the twenty four year mark he’d been doing pretty well for himself; a nice house, a nice sports car, the occasional vacation to some remote tropical paradise, a pretty girlfriend (or two or five), and all of it paid for by his perfectly symmetrical face. Not exactly perfect but as close as a human can get.
He’d been a model. Print, not runway. He’d even done some acting, if by acting you mean standing in a certain place and looking handsome while others acted around him. While Linda Evangelsta might not have gotten out of bed for less than $10,000 a day, at twenty four he wouldn’t even have considered getting into bed for less than double that.
Not sure that last sentence makes any sense but it does give you an idea of just how attractive he was. If he had said that at a party everyone would have just smiled and nodded in agreement.
And all through those years of looking good, he’d started looking ‘professionally good’ at sixteen, he worried that he was superficial and that he would never know if people really cared about him or just wanted to be around somebody so beautiful.
The question was answered for him a few weeks later.
Despite the reputation that models have for being self-absorbed, he’d been selfless in that moment. One truly selfless act. Heroic. Witnesses to his bravery lined up to tell the media how he’d stepped in between the deranged husband and the terrified wife. How he’d shielded the woman as he tried to convince the man to lower his weapon.
How the gun had gone off and taken half his face along with it.
“No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.”
– Oscar Wilde
The same world/media that had showered him with money, fame and accolades gave him one final hurrah and then showed its/our true colors.
You know those colors all too well. No need to explore them any further.
Had it really been three months?
Three months since he’d moved in with a girl he’d known from high school. They’d moved in as friends, she claimed that she’d loved him from the day she first saw him in ninth grade until she saw him drive off to New York four years later, he didn’t even remember her at first, but over the last few weeks he’d started to see what a sweet girl she was.
She was not classically beautiful. Or even remotely beautiful. Slightly overweight with a wildly asymmetrical face, the features of which always looked like they were chaotically assembled for an unannounced visitor. Like the eyes and ears didn’t have time to straighten up before the viewing commenced. Teeth that had gone rogue, like Gary Busey.
The nose was ajar.
Not sure that last sentence makes any sense but it does give you an idea of just how unattractive she was.
And, despite the best of efforts of a crack squad of cosmetic surgeons, she was now the hot one in the room whenever they were alone.
“I don’t like standard beauty – there is no beauty without strangeness.”
– Karl Lagerfeld
So they sat there one day arguing. He had told her a story about how when he was younger he’d come out of a restaurant to find a ticket on his car’s windshield. He’d casually picked it out from under the wiper, examined it briefly, balled it up in his fist and then casually tossed it over his shoulder into the street.
The girl he’d been with at the time had been very impressed by this act of impish rebellion. Looking back he’d always wondered if that was why he’d done it.
Before continuing with that train of thought he’d actually paused and said to his roommate “I don’t want to get too heavy with this”, to which she’d replied “Too late.”
Trying to move it along, he explained that even after he’d dropped that girl off he wanted to drive back to the restaurant and find the parking ticket. He was worried about the ramifications of such a disrespectful and dismissive act and, in the end, he was right to have been concerned. The ticket ended up costing him hundreds of dollars more than if he’d have just paid the fine right away and been done with it.
“The point being” he finally said “is that’s a perfect metaphor for what later happened to me with the gun and the whole having my face blown off thing.”
“What are you talking about?” she said. “No it is isn’t.”
“You’re just not understanding the connection” he countered, the words tumbling over his surgically-reconstructed jaw with just a hint of slurring and spittle.
“Connection? What are you talking about?” She sounded annoyed. “Do you even know what a metaphor is? If there’s something that is the exact opposite of a metaphor, that story would be it. I think you might have brain damage dude.”
He sat up a bit straighter on the couch to protest but instead decided to pout.
“Don’t pout” she counseled, “It never helps.”
Had it really been two years?
“Let us live for the beauty of our own reality.”
― Tom Robbins