Friday, November 26, 2010

A Calm and Dispassionate Assessment

I have lost my face. I have only a raw pulpy mass of sensitivities, hanging off cheekbone and brow. I look out of the bloody caves of my eyesockets as if out of reversed telescopes, and see tiny, busy, ant-like figures far away. Not ready to appear in public. Wind me up, wind me up in linens brushed with petroleum jelly, darken the room, and wait. Just wait, dear.

I write blog posts about the Third World War, or medical practice in America, or building for passive solar in the Pacific Northwest, or neo-Pagan family structures in the post-industrial world, and edit them until they disappear. What I have is a face of raw hamburger and a clutch of blue-penciled paper. I walk backwards, explaining my positions carefully to non-existent juries, and feel with my toes for the edges of the cliff. Wait.

At the same time, I am, inexplicably, a comfort to my family. I read aloud to them. Last night, after Thanksgiving was finally over, I read them “A Bit of Luck for Mabel” -- that grand short story of Wodehouse's. They laughed and laughed. I do lovely, effective massage: I'm at the top of my game. Do I even need a face? Do I need to convince the juries? Maybe this is a life, after all.

But the holidays come, inescapable nightmares, huge paste-like smears over the calendar. When the holidays come I despair of ever having a face. Let me buy a plastic Ordinary Joe mask, and keep it by the door. Nobody cares to look closely anyway. It should do. Just make sure it's buttered on the inside, so it doesn't stick: things are painful enough already.

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