Living Life without a Nose

Every so often, I meet or see a person that serves to remind me a) how good I got it, b) how we’ve all had crap happen in our lives and c) how the will and desire to overcome is present¬†in some people and not in others.
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“Let’s not do 12 days of Christmas,” Rog announced last Thursday night. “How about the 37 days of Christmas?” As I stare at him, completely mystified at his meaning. “I mean, why not put the tree tomorrow?” My jaw drops. Saliva drips from the corner of my mouth and he recants…a little. “This…weekend?” he suggests.

Seriously. Halloween just ended.

After wiping said drool from my mouth, I listened to Rog’s argument that we were hardly going to have a Christmas with all the travel and commitments.

“I’m also gone so much I don’t get to enjoy the decorations.” Nothing shows how truly-Christmas deprived he was as a child more than his plaintive wail. Of course I relented.

The next day, I find myself at my super-secret, cowboy ornament store that happens to have a killer sale going on. Standing a line 10 people deep, I take odds on what checker I’m going to get. When I see her, my stomach clenched and I felt a little queesy. Her, you see, is a woman with no nose.

It has only been in the last year that I’ve seen Her, a thin woman, mid-thirties, medium-height, five foot eight or so, thick, dark, shoulder-length, olive skin, and a graceful set of hands that move quickly from counter to terminal, referring to co-workings as “honey” and customers as “hon.”

The first time I’d seen her, I was a bit taken aback, and didn’t stare (thanks mom, you taught me right), and looked around her missing attribute– her forehead, her hair–easy to do when in the waiting line and looking at her from the side. But that Friday, I had a feeling it was going to be my turn in front of her.

Soon I was invited to her counter, called Hon and we started talking. That’s what I do: I get others talking. I’m genuinely curious and it’s helped by the fact others usually are more than happy to answer.

The conversation centered on our mutual love and appreciation of cowboy ornaments and she did her job and tried to sell me on an in-house charge card. When I declined, she went for the hard sell.

Let me tell you, she was good. She tried every angle, and I sparred with her like only a fellow sales-person would. It was becoming fun. As this went on, I noticed how gloriously green her emerald-colored eyes were, framed by long lashes and thick brows. Her lips were full, and her face a mask of flawless skin that actually moved, removing all doubt that she was in fact, a natural beauty, no botox or restilyn present. I didn’t even notice her nose, which was actually a reconstruction of two side-pieces of skin, folded together like a vertical seem.

“No in-house credit for me,” I was saying. “My twenties were for getting in debt. My thirties were for getting out of debt and my forties are for staying out.” She smiled. Then it was her turn.

“Tell me about it Hon,” she started, talking as rapidly as her hands moved my stack of cowboy ornaments across the beeping scanner. “I was flipping houses in my twenties, making eight thousand dollars a shot, had savings and a husband and credit with Lloyds of London. Then my husband left me with one hundred thousand dollars in debt and my identity got stolen. I had no money, no credit and no home.” She continued to ring and I was dead silent, captivated in one of those horrible yet fascinated ways.

“I’ve here working to get back to where I was, and at least I have decent credit now, I’m single, and I’m getting ready to start flipping house again. Nothing as small as that is going to stop me from getting back to where I was.”

Whoa. As the horse ornament whizzed over the beeper and she folded up the catcus and peppers, I was struck not by what she said (I’ve heard lots of stories of men and women being taken for rides by their former spouses, yours truly included), but what she left out. Nothing about the nose, and I wasn’t going to ask. By that time, I didn’t even notice it.

Then she took out a card from behind the counter, swiped that as well, and I saw the register remove another 15% from the total price.

“You can do that?” I asked, pleased and amazed.

She winked. “Of course Hon. Happy Friday.”

I told her I’d see her again soon, and left the building. Tonight, I hung the ornaments, taking extra care with the cactus and peppers, my thoughts on what one has to go through to not let something as small as being left physically, and encumbered with $100K of debt not diminish one’s determination to have a ¬†fulfilling life.