Put My Picture on Facebook

Before you upload the picture of me that you took, consider this:

I was about ten years old. I was speeding down my steep driveway on a gleaming chrome Schwinn bicycle. Suddenly, one of the Horwitz twins, either Sharon or Toby, was directly ahead, crossing the driveway on the sidewalk. I swerved and lost control of my 26 inch bike, landing head-first on a rock my mother brought back in the Chrysler trunk from a trip to Florida. My mouth was bleeding, and I had broken my front tooth.

Our family dentist, Dr. Solon, treated my wounded lips. He went to his back office and returned with a shot glass full of Old Granddad. It burned, but I soon felt warm and content. He filled my broken incisor with black amalgam. For the next five years, I learned to smile without revealing my black-bottomed broken front tooth. When he was satisfied that my adult teeth had grown sufficiently, Dr. Solon, using minimal (and unique) anesthesia, ground that front tooth into (as described by my next dentist) an "inverted teepee." Upon this, he glued a phony tooth made out of silly putty and ground porcupine toenails. It was a bit smaller than my other front tooth, and had a kind of faint greenish-blue disposition. It had a habit of falling off regularly, at inopportune times. My next dentist carved the "teepee" into an undercut yurt upon which he pounded a porcelain crown with a silver hammer. This has proven more resilient, but there is still a difference in color and texture, so I keep my mouth mostly shut.

I was a favorite of my college speech teacher, because he said that my "barrel chest" was great for breathing demonstrations. It could have been worse, but at the time, I was working the all-night shift at a radio station in Akron, Ohio, and slept through most of his 8:00AM classes. He may have been the first to point out my slobber-lipped Cleveland accent. I tried to speak as few words as possible.

My passion for the theater and electrical splicing talent got me a job in a summer theater company. On the eve of my professional acting debut, the director pointed out my high, squeaky voice. I struggled to get into the lower register, asking every brown cow, "How now?" He also pointed out that I walked like an ostrich with a hernia. My feet splayed out at inhuman angles, and as I walked, a person watching could see the catís paw relief on the heels of my shoes, and the worn holes in the soles.

As I arrived at my dorm room on the USC campus, I held my lips slightly parted, my voice in the basement, my feet painfully turned in, and my arms crossed to minimize my barrel chest. After a few dates, I found out that I had the habit of crinkling up my eyes in a canyon of porcine crevasses when I smiled. After an auto accident, back pain caused me to walk in a slightly stooped "Minnie the Moocher" slide. Straightening out from this gave me a whole new gait. Adding a few pounds, I consciously tightened my stomach when I sensed observers off to the side. I pressed my tongue to the roof of my mouth to eliminate at least one of my multiple chins.

 

One day I awoke to a turkey neck. Where it came from, I donít know. I remember looking up from my desk at my teachers and wondering at the grand canyon under their chins. It didnít stand still, either, it shifted and moved and things were always happening down in the gulch at the bottom. Now I had one.

Shaped like a pear, there is no groove in my waistline upon which a pair of trousers could find purchase. Every ten or fifteen steps, I have to stop and pull up my pants after they had become spacious and baggy, and caught on the heels of my crocs. As my hair became thinner, I tried to avoid back light, walking into the sun whenever possible. Blinded, I wrinkled my squinty eyes and tripped on gopher holes and skinned abrasions on my knees, tearing my baggy pants.

There, across the street, you see the perfect specimen strolling purposefully. Inside, his body is screaming: pain, fatigue, spasms. Lips only slightly parted to hide the bicuspid lost at El Torito. Eyes flat, watering from the sun, tongue hiding multiple chins, feet painfully twisted marching straight ahead, stomach tight, back straight Ė I see your camera come out. Can I hold it long enough? The pain becomes unbearable, thereís a gopher hole ahead, gum is choking, caught in my throat Ė I canít hold it any longer.

Youíre proud to add the picture to your album of friends. Caught like a deer at the instant before impact, unable to reverse the passage of time. A slightly side angle, a bit of distortion in that inexpensive lens, light breaking across a crumpled brow, bubble stomach standing out against a bright background, light shimmering on a gleaming scalp and all this work, all these years of suffering have become completely futile.

--endó

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