About Face

While knifing a pink, dime-sized splotch of Basal Cell Carcinoma out of my shoulder a couple weeks ago my dermatologist identified a similar mark about an inch below my left eye which is why I found myself in a cosmetic surgeon's office in Laurel Heights this morning.

When we were finished with the consult, the cosmetic surgeon and I, and he'd done his best to emphasize, repeatedly, the fact that I was to consume absolutely no alcoholic beverages at least one week prior to my upcoming procedure or I would run the risk of not clotting well afterward, I asked if I could bother him with a question unrelated to skin cancer or forced temporary sobriety and before he could turn me down I'd already let "Why do I have so many wrinkles on my face and forehead already I'm only thirty-three doctor why me why me?" out of my mouth and into the exam room.

He studied my face for several seconds as if he were searching for the answer to my question in my brain instead of his own, then looked me in the eyes and said, almost as if he were responding to a different question entirely, "Your facial expressions are quite dynamic."

"Yes, I'm aware," I said, growing impatient. "People tell me that all the time. Well, actually they usually use the term gay face, but I assume it means the same thing. Anyway doctor, can you please tell me why I have so many wrinkles?"

He shook his head, grabbed a circular mirror out of a nearby cabinet, shoved the handle of it into my palm and motioned for me to look into it. "Now smile," he said, as if a hidden camera were embedded in the reflective glass. “You see?” he said, pointing to an assemblage of abbreviated crescent-moon-shaped creases fanning out around the corners of my eyes. “Your muscles are very strong here. They're pulling this skin together. The muscles are also strong right here,” he continued, his index finger now indicating the folds in the middle of my forehead.

“Seriously?” I asked. "What you’re telling me is that I look like a three-day-old party balloon because the muscles in my face are too strong?"

“Well that, and you should be more diligent with sunscreen.”

I watched his expression for a moment to make sure he wasn't yanking my chain and then said, in my most serious octave, "Thank you, doctor. I very much appreciate your candor."

I handed him the mirror, slid my backpack off the examination table and made my way toward the door while he jotted notes on the clipboard now cradled in the crook of his arm.

“Just a supernaturally muscular face. Like way, way too strong for its own good," I mumbled to myself. "And use a skosh more sunscreen. Got it."

“Corey?” the doctor called after me, not bothering to look up from his note-taking.

"Yeah doc?"

A lot more sunscreen."