Thursday, December 6, 2007

My good side is my bad side

As a child, I remember watching some kind of PBS documentary about the history of women's beauty. The images from that program have stuck with me through fat and thin--the points where your legs should meet, the symmetry of your face--especially the symmetry of your face, because I have a very lopsided face.

People tend not to notice it until I point it out to them before they can point it out to me, at which point they say, oh I never noticed it, but yeah you really do.

In a photograph taken of me moments after birth, a photo used in my birth announcement, you can see how lopsided my eyebrows are. One side of my face pulls up, elongating the nostril, arching the eyebrow, sharpening the jaw line and then the other side of my face collapses in on itself, the eyebrow flat, my cheek overflowing into my neck. It's a startling contrast and the longer you spend staring at my face in the mirror, the more you will notice and be horrified by it, like Christine revealing the Phantom's two-facedness.

So to make sure that only one side of my face makes it into the history books, I have taken to jumping up whenever I am placed on the right side of a group photo and running over to the left side so that my left side is pictured. I make a cute comment like "that's my bad side!" and people giggle and assume I am being witty. They are right, but I am also being honest. The awkwardness comes when, over the course of a party, I continue to squeal "that's my bad side!" whenever my photo is taken.

In conversations, I tend to tilt my head slightly to the right to make the sloping seem more deliberate. Or I claim a slight deafness in my right ear and offer my left. Or I simply turn my head away and offer no explanation. Quasimodo didn't need to explain that he was a hunchback. People just knew.

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