Gritty Details

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tonight's Poet Corner: Seeing Double

Seeing Double
by Belinda Roddie

Let's be real: There are parts of me
that I love with all my heart. The little
physical details that make for one unique,
expressionist piece of art. The size ten feet
in black shoes, and the big, brawny hands,
with the size eight and a half engagement ring
and an equally fitted wedding band. The mighty
calves, taut and bold with smooth, mean
muscle from so many rigorous strolls.
The broad shoulders

I appreciate, too. They give me the frame
of a soldier, when truly I have the name
of a poet. The thick neck and the brick
wall back, the thin but arching brow, the
sharply curved cheekbones, the perfectly
proportioned nose. I love the way my lips
curl when the words get too noisy behind
my tongue and want to be heard so badly
that they forget how to wait their turn. I adore
my eyes - their tint, their shape, their size,
the way the light splits up the spectrum
when it hits my hazel watercolors just right.

There are parts of me that I forgive for the parts
that I treasure. An intruding chest can be pressed
down with a binder or a dapper vest. I can always
suck in my stomach, manage the diaphragm so
that I can create the illusion of being svelte. They don't
call my thighs thundering for nothing, and ooh, la la,
that derriere! It protrudes like a Mt. Rushmore face
from this stout and sturdy mountain, but I will say,
it's something the wifey likes to look at with a smile.
Yes, there are parts of me that, while I'm not inclined
to praise them, I don't mind them, I let them slide,
I don't allow the distortions to transmutate my pride,

except for one. One glitch in the well-constructed
interface that has been laid out in glorious code
and sculpture. One slight instance of erosion
on a grand slope, something that will morph into
an avalanche of self-consciousness if I focus too
hard on the shifting, shuffling earth. It is a mass
morass, chaotic in its simplicity. It's a bit of looser
flesh I hate, from its girth to its elasticity. It loves
to burst forward from my face, from any angle,
on a whim. Yes, the part of me I find more than
flawed, the part that I wish could be outlawed, that
dares commit such a poor aesthetic sin - is
the Shakespearian tragedy of my double chin.

My double chin! Alas, how I am wronged!
When I look in the mirror for way too long,
I am seeing double. My first chin is already so tiny
and so stinking cute, such a shrinking deviation
from the rest of my animation, that I know
I'm already in trouble. I can let the second chin
go most of the day, since I'm usually spending
my time educating instead of literally
self-reflecting. But you know how

sometimes - smile! You're somehow on camera?
Even when you're just opening up your phone, even
when you're all alone in the bathroom, and finishing
your business while minding your own business, and
you sneak a peek at your clumsy physique, and you
either feel squeamish or chic? Well, for me, I will
freely admit, when I steal an awkward glance,
I just feel weak and sick to my abdominal pit, looking
at myself and wondering, "Is it just me, or is my face
trying to grow another goddamn face?" It's like

the guy from Alien and I are in the same boat: He
had a foreign species burst from his chest, while
something extraterrestrial is erupting just above
my throat. This layer of spare blubber does nothing
to keep me warm. I have a pouch that I can't
even store emergency supplies in. It's two chins
for the price of one! This is one more bulbous wall
that I can't tear down, no matter how much
Zombie Ronald Reagan bosses me around. It
costars with me on film, detracts from any notion
that I can be a handsome devil in a picture
in motion. This beautifully chiseled display

is followed by a shapeless lump of clay, unmolded
and unyielding. I am pleading with it, once and
for all, and if not today, then soon, could it be like
rain, rain, and go the fuck away? I wish that I
could grow a dark, bushy, magnificent beard,
just to cover it up! And I swear it wouldn't look
weird. But my double chin will not play my game.
No matter how much weight I lose or gain, this
unwanted roommate living in my personal temple
likes the space, and it intends to remain. And believe

me, I've tried to sabotage its stay. I've checked
all the websites, tried all the little home remedies.
I've done jaw juts that make my tendons feel
strained. I've chewed more gum than Sean Spicer
on a bad day. They say the more you chew,
the more a double chin fades. Instead, I got stuck
with a pile of empty wrappers and a minor case
of TMJ. I've stretched out my tongue, looked up
mesotherapy and CoolSculpting, lifted my head
with my gaze toward the heavens, begging God,
"Look, I'm sure you have way higher priorities,
like world hunger and war and all that nonsense,
but could you spare a minute or three to relieve
me of this irritating, overall minor inconvenience?"

I am not a small person. This I won't deny.
I love to eat and drink and be merry. But I'm also
a hiking, biking kind of guy. And the rest of my
face is slim enough to make this added monstrosity
of fat and skin stick out like an aberration. And
before you ask me that ultimate expected question,
which I have been preparing for since I started
this diatribe of self-awareness and obsession:

"Well, then what do you think about other people
with double chins or triple chins or quadruple chins?
Do you think they're ugly, too?" And of course,
my answer is no, absolutely not! Because obviously,
number one, they wear them better; and number two,
they're gorgeous no matter how many chins they have;
and number three, the rules of acceptable beauty
clearly don't apply to me! And that's when
I realize that I should probably just stop talking.
Because I know

that somewhere, my poor wife is sighing
and shaking her head while I feel stupid and
my face goes red. She does not understand
why I fixate so much on a piece of me that
she says, in her own words, isn't worth the time
or the rhyme. "It's just neutral," she tells me.
Not bad, not good, just neutral. Neutral like
Switzerland gobbling down chocolates and
pretending that World War II wasn't actually
happening. Neutral like the color beige painted
in a thin swatch on a light gray wall. Neutral
like the equilibrium of a tiny carbon atom, where
the protons and electrons don't overpower one another.
The positive energy doesn't triumph, but the negative
never wins. It is all cemented in the all-powerful,
universal thematic language of, "...Meh." It's just,

"Meh." The existence of this double resistance
is the epitome of "Meh." "Meh" is the glorious
slogan of a feature that doesn't, and shouldn't,
compromise the radiant glare of my hazel eyes.
It doesn't undermine the shine of my smile, or
diminish the flourish of my raised eyebrows, or
shutter the flutter of my long lashes. Ain't no
mascara on these bad boys. And so, I thought I'd
reconcile with my double chin - for at least a little
while - and write a brief letter to it. Maybe it
would make me feel a little better. So to my

flabby friend, resting calmly beneath my
fine jawline - maybe I'll never get rid of you.
But slowly I'm learning to accept the fact
that your presence is not an attack on my good
looks (because let's face it, I look damn good).
Sure, maybe you're a little excessive, and you
certainly enjoy multiplying like a pancake shortstack
when I scrunch up my neck in just the right way.

You have your idiosyncrasies, and I have mine. You
might hinder me cinematically, but outside
the mainstream, I can still play the man or woman
of your dreams. After all, don't they say, "Double
the pleasure, double the fun?" But let's keep this
neutral, a truce on a mutual territory. We could chat
about our past together, but that's a whole different
story. You are one clingy bastard, double chin, but
you're my clingy bastard. And maybe if I remember
that, seeing double isn't that big of a disaster.

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