The car isn’t on fire, but I smell burning. My husband doesn’t smell it, but I consistently do. I’ve heard that women have a better sense of smell than men, but if you saw the size of my nose, you may think, “She has a bionic sense of smell because her schnoz is huge!” When I mention this, adults look down and say, “Oh, no you don’t.” Kids are honest. Kids say my nose is big.
This is my primary body issue. I have more than one, as I bet most people do. My chest is very small and I believe is flatter still after breastfeeding. My hair is a natty mop of curls, the likes of which can be seen in any nearby tree, inhabited by birds. My fingernails are atrocious and my feet are possibly sprouting bunions. Still, it’s the nose that gets me. It’s what I see in the mirror, it’s what sticks out in photographs unless the lighting and my neck tilt are just perfect, and my eyes aren’t closed and my lips aren’t baring too much of my long teeth.
In college, my roommate and I took an environmental science class together. She volunteered to drive the day we went to the wetlands to videotape a project, and, being the interstate-and-city girl she is, she skidded off the gravel road. We landed in a ditch and narrowly missed hitting a power pole—in the middle of the wetlands. So we skidded, thumped, and came to a sudden halt with the front bumper safely embedded in the ditch’s muddy bank. She hyperventilated. I asked, “Why didn’t you hit a little harder? Then I could’ve broken my nose on the dashboard.”
I have this idea that elective rhinoplasty is wrong; that I should appreciate what God has naturally given me. But, if God gives me an accident that calls for mandatory rhinoplasty—well, that’s His call, not mine. Speaking of God, is anyone surprised that my sweet, beautiful baby inherited my nose? After twenty-two hours of labor and tears of joy when he was born, I actually lamented, “Oh, he has my nose!” At least he’ll be able to travel easily, as I’m often mistaken for Italian, Greek, Spanish and Jewish. No one ever guesses German-Puerto Rican, but we’re a quiet minority.
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Meanwhile, I continue to view my nose in the mirror. I hold my index finger over the bump and look at my profile that way, imaging a cute ski-slope of a nose rather than the Wicked Witch of the West hump I carry. It’s handy at Halloween, at least. Just paint it green, no need for an artificial putty mask. And it’s a good thing. I smell dinner burning.