Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Nose Job

(A slightly soppy romance written for Woman magazine, published in 2004)
Copyright: Janet Cameron

I knew Allen wouldn’t approve.  And I was right.   ‘What do you want with a nose job?’ he asks.  ‘There’s nothing wrong with your nose.’
            ‘I hate my nose,’ I tell him, miserably. 
            ‘You’d be better off spending your money on a holiday,’ he says.
            That afternoon, I’m outside my house, cleaning my little Micra.  Allen pulls up in his new red Ferrari.  I can’t help but comment:  ‘Why is it OK for you to spend  thousands on a Ferrari but not for me to spend out on my nose?’
            ‘It’s different.  It’s a car.’
            ‘It’s the same.  You could get a good car for half the price.’
            ‘Wouldn’t be the same,’ he murmurs, running his palm over the shining bonnet.  ‘She’s a princess.  She’s special.’
            I stifle the urge to pour my bucket of dirty window water over ‘Princess.’
            ‘It’s not different.  How d’ you feel when you’re driving it?’
            ‘Driving her.’
‘D’you like it when people stare?  Do you enjoy their admiration?   Makes you feel good about yourself, doesn’t it?   Well, that’s why I want my new nose.’
            ‘That’s vanity,’ he says.
            ‘So’s that,’ I retort,  stabbing my finger at the Ferrari, which gleams back at me  in defiance. ‘If it’s OK for you to indulge your vanity, it’s OK for me too.’
I sweep inside the house.  I’m so angry I’m sure steam is coming out my ears.  I ring Mum for some moral support, but she makes me feel so guilty.  I try to reassure her.
            ‘I’ll make sure I get a reputable surgeon.  I’m not daft.  I’ll to do my homework, Mum, don’t worry.’
            Next day, it continues.  ‘Honestly, Kate,’ says my friend Ali.  ‘It’s not just about your nose.  It’s about your self-esteem.  Accept yourself as you are.  If you want surgery, it’s because something’s wrong psychologically.’
            ‘So what, if there is?  I’m human.  Why can’t I indulge myself?   If a nose job helps my dodgy psychology, who’s it hurting?’
            I see Allen that evening.  He doesn’t kiss me hello.  I’m hurt.  We don’t mention the nose job at first.  Then he starts:
            ‘When you think of all the people needing medical attention who can’t afford it…’
            I begin to tremble.  Leaping to my feet, I plant my hands on my hips and glare at him mutely.  Finally, it comes out in a rush.
            ‘That’s a most unfair argument against cosmetic surgery.  You spent thousands on your last holiday.  You could have donated it to charity, if  you’d wanted to.  I’m not having a holiday this year.  I’m having my nose done.  And I’m keeping my six-year old Micra.  How are you any more moral than me?’
‘If you want to give in to it, that’s your choice.’
             ‘Allen.  I think you should go.’
Allen lets his lip droop, a trick he uses to get around me.  But I’m determined.  No one is going to talk me out of this.   I’m not so stupid I can’t recognize emotional blackmail. 
            How people hate change in their loved ones.  Even an improvement becomes a threat.
            Allen tries to take me in his arms.  ‘Why can’t I stay?’
            ‘Because,’ I say, pushing him away, ‘I need my space.’
            Oh wow!  I didn’t know I could be so assertive.  Allen goes.  I don’t rehash our argument in my mind, like I usually do.  Instead, I find the list of recommended surgeons from my GP and choose a surgeon from my local hospital.  I’ll phone tomorrow.
            I go to the mirror, stare at my nose, pushing it down and up, pinching the end.
Surgery?   I know it’s the right thing to do.
            The bandages are coming off today.
            I’ll be bruised.  It’ll take time for the swelling to go.  I shan’t panic, knowing what to expect.  The surgeon holds a mirror up to my face.  I smile at him before looking at myself.  I have every confidence in him.
            I’m not disappointed.  I look, not just at my nose, but at my whole face.  I’d forgotten my lovely eyes, large and heavily-lashed.  I’d forgotten my mouth was full and tilted at the corners.  I’d forgotten because all I’d seen for ten years was my huge, overbearing nose.
            ‘It’s amazing.  Amazing!’
Then Allen rings.  ‘I’ll pick you up,’ he says.
            ‘You don’t have to,’ I retort, feeling independent.
            ‘I want to,’ he says.  ‘I haven’t seen you for yonks.’
            This is true. Everyone was banned from visiting, except Mum.
            I’m anxious, taking the lift down to the main reception.  I see Allen before he sees me.  ‘Kate,’ he cries, face lighting up. 
            With a pang, I realise I want his face to light up for me, not for my nose.  How irrational we human beings are!  I want my new nose but still want him to love me for me!
            ‘You look wonderful, Kate,’ he says.  ‘Will you marry me?’
            ‘Leave off!’
            ‘Please, Kate.’
            ‘I didn’t expect my nose job to work that quickly.’‘It’s not your nose job, you idiot.’  He grabs me, kisses me hungrily.  ‘It’s you.  It’s you.  You’ve got gumption, Kate.  You’re feisty and believe in yourself.  That’s what I love in a woman, big nose or little nose.  Although, I’ll admit, the nose is rather fetching.’
            ‘So you’re not marrying me for my nose.’
            ‘No, nor for your bank balance.’
            ‘Don’t have a bank balance.  I’ve spent it on my nose.’
Allen grabs my hand.  Then we’re almost floating across the hospital car park to where Princess awaits us in all her blazing, scarlet glory.

Copyright: Janet Cameron

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