Saving face while losing some of it
The English language is a fertile field for euphemisms and no word demonstrates this better than “discomfort”. As an example, I offer the warning a nurse extended to me prior to a procedure I underwent 24 hours ago that might cause, she said, “some discomfort”. As it transpired, the discomfort was akin to having honey poured over your face and then being upended in a nest of bull ants.
I’ve had skin cancers cut out before but this time it was solar keratoses – sun spots to you. These, I was told, would be removed by smearing a gel on my face that would cause the skin to peel, taking the sun spots with it. I read the brochure while I waited and it said I could expect “local skin responses”. Now there’s a euphemism for you. I was halfway home when my face started to burn. I glanced in the car mirror and was greeted with a bright red glow where my face used to be.
I walked into the house, poked my head around the door and waited for my wife’s reaction. I was not to be disappointed, her scream echoing down the street. “Could you pull the bedcovers over your face,” she said as we went to bed that night. “The glow will keep me awake.” It burnt all night and it was the small hours before I finally fell asleep.
When I awoke, I could barely open my eyes and my forehead had erupted in pustules. I looked again at the brochure, which told me only two per cent of patients suffered a reaction like this.
Skin is now peeling from my face in strips. I snuck out for coffee this afternoon, wearing dark glasses and a big straw hat I bought from Bunnings. “Everyone’s staring at you,” said my wife. “They think you’ve got leprosy. Do you mind if I sit at another table?”
I have retreated indoors and will remain there for a week, shedding skin. Two per cent! Mother always said I was different.