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A face I deserve

01/22/2013 @ 8:31am

George Orwell said, “At 50, everyone has the face they deserve.”

I didn’t need to hear that.

My computer has a camera in it that can be activated with the push of one button. It’s not the machine’s most important feature, but it came with it, so there it is.

I was doing some bookwork last week - paying bills and sorting through papers - and I set some stuff down on the keyboard.  When I looked up after a while, there I was, staring at myself.

I took a careful look and thought, “What did I do to deserve this?”

Don’t get me wrong.  Small children don’t flee screaming and in tears when they lay eyes on me, although if I don’t wear a hat in the summertime I only need about three hours in the sun before the top of my head looks like I have leprosy. I learned the hat lesson when our son was on his way home from the Persian Gulf and I was on his ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, eager to watch a demonstration of all the hardware a Marine assault ship carries. As we waited, an announcement came over the loudspeaker ordering everyone to take off their hats and hold them tightly, in case one would blow away and get sucked up in a jet engine.  I held my hat as directed and two days later I had blisters the size of small mammals perched all over the top of my noggin.

Not a good look.

Anyway, one eyelid droops a little. There’s a scar on it, the remnant of a learning experience on how to start a Minneapolis Moline Z with a hand crank.  A few faded stitch marks and a couple of significant dents from collisions with a variety of pointy objects still show.  My hair, what’s left of it, is now completely grey, including my eyebrows, which I now need to prune with hedge clippers a couple of times a week.

My face has a slightly eroded look, which isn’t hard to understand.  For 30 years I had hogs on two farms that were a couple of miles apart and hauled feed from one to another using a tractor without a cab.  If you’re seated on an open tractor driving into the teeth of a north wind and you want to expose adequate skin to allow seeing clearly enough to avoid running into the ditch, almost anyone is going to look like they stood a little too close to a sandblaster.  

My default expression is “worried” with a tinge of “grumpy.”

It made me feel even worse when I was watching the news and saw a picture of Barbara Walters. She is roughly 30 years older than me and when I look at her face, I see three possibilities. Either she’s had quite a bit of plastic surgery, she’s signed a pact with Satan, or she and I have lived vastly different lives.

If I’ve earned the face I have, and I’m willing to agree to that premise, she must have hers on credit.

I have to admit that I don’t have a firm handle on plastic surgery. I understand some of it. If you’re in a demanding, youth-oriented business, I can see why if you’re 40 you’d like to look 28.  But if you’re 80, no matter what business you’re in, why would you want to look like a Barbie?

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