Last Sunday, at the Camp of the Slow Loris, I fell out of a hammock, or to be more precise, I fell out trying to get into the hammock. I plunged face down on the forest floor, pushing my glasses into my nose. I had two superficial scrapes, which bled at first and scared my son, he thinking I had lost an eye. The next morning I had developed a black eye, but the glasses themselves didn’t get bent or scratched, my nose was intact, my vision fine, and my eyes not bloodshot.
A few days later I took a self-portrait with my new digital camera to send in e-mails as a joke, but my grandchild saw it, was “scared”, and had a “bad dream” about it. The neighbour’s child saw my black eye, was visibly shocked and presented such an alarming picture to the parents that the wife brought me over food. Another neighbour said I looked so awful that I wouldn’t be able to go out of the house for two weeks. My daughter wrote, apologetically, that she was going to delete the photo because it looked so “harsh.” She was not amused, I could tell.
Various charitable agencies often use a photo of a sad child or a child with bruises in their ads that ask for donations. In our newspapers a while ago, there was a child with a birthmark that made her face look as if it had been bruised. She actually had been mistreated, but not on her face. The photo was used over and over, a lie in one way. We do judge a person’s mental and physical health by their face, no doubt about it, and a child must learn that very early.
Last month my aunt phoned me to complain that I hadn’t worn my one false tooth to have breakfast with her. “You look awful without it.” I have always been vain about not being vain, but these experiences have taught me a lesson. Now that I am old, I do owe something to my friends and relatives to assure them that I am in good health. Of course they worry if they think I am not well. I did have a breast cancer removed nine years ago, but knock on wood, I have been free of cancer ever since and in general I am in good health. I guess I need to show it.