Colleen Figg

Plastic not so fantastic

2008-02-08 08:49

Colleen Figg

When I was about twenty I was sent off to the South Rand Hospital to get my appendix taken out. In those days one could go in to get one's appendix out and rest assured that one would not come around finding one was missing an arm instead, but ja.

I was very happy to be getting time off work being in that twenties state of mind when work was something you did to pay for your week night and weekend jols and not something you felt you should be committed to in any way.

I was in no particular physical agony and so trotted off happily to face the scalpel. I took an almost medical interest in the procedures I was subjected to in the prep stages and was eventually carted off, blissfully high on the pre-med injection, to the theatre.

I'd heard dire tales of people who become very ill when they come to after anaesthetic; some people spoke of vomiting endlessly into bedpans whilst others said that they'd seen pink elephants or the like marching across the floor at the foot of their bed. So it was no surprise to me, when I came around, to see a pair of female Frankensteins regarding me through their bandages from the two opposite beds.

Winding me up

I regarded them blearily, feeling quite entertained that I had got a fairly interesting hallucination to deal with; and wondering if they could talk. Before I could pursue these ponderings sleep claimed me again and when I woke up I saw a nurse unwinding one of the monster's bandages.

Unable to tear my eyes away I was horrified when her face was finally unmasked; the skin was red, tight and shiny and there were ugly black stitches all the way along the jaw line and around the ears. The nurse dabbed and blotted at the stitches and generally carried out what I felt to be perfectly revolting duties (then and there I decided nursing was a no-no for me) and then she left, having mercifully obscured that terrible visage once again.

One of the mummies turned to the other and said in tremendously cultivated tones, the likes of which we were not used to hearing in the South of Jo'burg, that although there was pain, she felt the payoff would be worth it.

It was then that the penny dropped! These women had just had facelifts and had crossed the border South of Sandton so none of their friends might know the procedures had been done. (Actually I wondered how their friends would tell them apart for they looked identical as I later discovered, like two plastic Barbies off the production line.)

No notice?

What baffled me, and what continues to baffle me to this day is how did they think the friends would not notice?

I mean, where before their vowels were rounded, now they were perfectly elliptical, where before they could toss their heads and bounce their curls over their shoulders, now they had to turn their entire body if they wanted to speak to someone behind them.

I wondered if their husbands would collect the right woman when they were discharged.

But the real conundrum concerning facelifts, for me, is who do they think they are fooling? It is the ultimate in self-deception, the facelift.

Send your comments to Colleen.

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