Roger Leigh (Macquarie University, Australia)
There’s a face that looks back from the mirror. It’s familiar. Yet, it’s unlike the image I’m expecting. Inside my head is my real face, blessed with rugged good looks—a kind of Harrison Ford meets Clint Eastwood. What I see is nothing like that!
Why, for example, do fat hairy caterpillars lurk above each eye? I try and move one independently of the other to imitate the Dr Spock look of inquisition. But they refuse to operate independently, and instead move up and down in unison. I look like Charlie Chaplin.
And why is my face so long? It looks like God made a normal round face and then wondered how far he could stretch it without it looking ridiculous. And then, having found that point, he pulled some more.
When I frown, little sacks of skin hang down either side of my mouth. It’s like there’s a distressed basset hound looking back from the mirror. What are those sacks of skin even for? Maybe they’re to match the bags I get under my eyes when I don’t get enough sleep. Oh dear! I haven’t had enough sleep.
At one time, I thought I could improve things with the addition of some facial hair. I imagined a bushy beard would give my face width and interest. One holiday, I stopped shaving for a couple of weeks. Rather than the abundant crop of hair I planned, I ended up with random tufts. It was like the basset hound had caught the mange.
My sister saw it and said, ‘what the fuck is that on your face?’ Well to be fair, her exact words were, ‘are you trying to grow a beard, Roger?’ But I knew what she meant.
There was an upside—shaving it all off was one of the few things I ever did to improve my looks.
I suppose I could try smiling, but then those sacks either side of my mouth kind of bunch up like over-enthusiastic punctuation (((—))).
What if I show my teeth? Eek! That’s worse. You know those movies about the underdog school sports team? The kids are different shapes and sizes in their dishevelled white uniforms. When the coach shouts ‘play’, everyone rushes in different directions. That’s it—you’ve got an image of the world inside my mouth.
It’s not all bad news. When God decided to short-change the bottom of my face in the hair department, he gave back generously to the top half. My hair is thick, with a few patches of grey forming natural highlights against the brown thatch. Last time I had my hair cut, the hairdresser commented on how healthy my hair was. But then, after she’d trimmed the sides with some clippers, she offered to trim my eyebrows. She was no Charlie Chaplin fan.
Roger Leigh is a fiction writer studying for a Master of Creative Writing at Macquarie University. He writes from his home in Sydney, where his wife, two children, and dog provide boundless inspiration, support, and encouragement. His three chooks couldn’t give a shit.