The woman appeared to be in a world of her own. That was my first impression. I sat down to eat lunch by myself Wednesday at a small place in a part of town where I hadn’t been for awhile. She was beautiful. Around 28 or 30 years old, I’d guess. But the longer I sat there, the more something about her just wasn’t right.
She had papers and folders spread out on the table where she sat. She was intently studying something, but I couldn’t tell what. She would sometimes pick up a small mirror and look at something closely on her face. Then she’d look back to the papers. She wasn’t aware of anything else.
She finally looked up and stared out the window for a moment. Then she turned in my general direction and said, “Do you think my chin looks wrong? I’m afraid it’s too wide. Or maybe the angle isn’t right.”
She could have been talking to the wall, as far as I could tell, but I was the only other person in the place. Besides, she actually looked as though she expected an answer. The question was a little too odd for me to know how to respond. My initial thought was to tell her — honestly — that her face seemed absolutely perfect to me, but I didn’t know what was really going on, so I just stuck to saying that her chin looked fine to me.
“Are you sure?” she asked. She came over to my table, bringing one of the brochures she had been looking at. It was filled with pictures of close-ups of faces. “This one looks better than mine, doesn’t it? I look so ugly.”
From a closer perspective, something about her face didn’t look quite right. She was stunningly, perfectly beautiful. Yet something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“When I got the nose job, I thought that would fix everything,” she said. “But now that my nose is narrower, maybe the chin should be, too. See this picture? Would I look better if I got that done? I’m so tired of looking at this face in the mirror every day.”
There was something about her that looked unreal. If someone told me that she was an android and this was a test to see if someone could tell the difference, I wouldn’t have been too surprised. She was perfect in the way she was shaped and molded. Yet she felt fake, lifeless and dead.
She kept talking to me about her efforts to fix herself, although it wasn’t clear why she was telling me. It was more like she was just talking and I happened to be the one there.
“I got my boobs done and they look perfect now,” she said.
She pulled down part of her shirt to expose most of one breast all the way down to her nipple.
“You can touch it,” she said. “It feels real. I was afraid it wouldn’t feel perfect, but everyone says they look good and they feel good.”
There wasn’t anything sexual or sensual about her offer. She seemed more like somebody asking a potential car buyer to kick tires to prove that they were good. Her body was just a mechanical device for her to mold and sculpt. She told me she used to be flat-chested, but she got herself enlarged to C cups.
“I wish now I’d done D,” she said. “Boobs are always better when they’re bigger. I should have made them bigger, shouldn’t I?”
I asked her why she had had the nose job and the breast enlargement.
“I was ugly,” she said. “Guys didn’t like to look at me. I’m still ugly, but I’m going to get the rest fixed, too.”
She was dressed impeccably. Her makeup was perfect. She was wearing a pleasant perfume. In every way, she looked as though she had stepped out of the pages of a magazine. Yet this woman thought she was ugly.
She talked a little bit more about having liposuction to have little pockets of fat removed from places I never would have even noticed. I finally asked her what she was trying to achieve in all the changes she was making. She answered without hesitation.
“I want to be perfect,” she said. “If I’m perfect, the perfect man will love me. If I’m perfect, he couldn’t help it, could he?”
I felt sick at the contradiction she was presenting me. She was physical perfection, but she hated herself and seemed empty on the inside. I was reminded of a quote I ran across a few weeks ago that I never found the source for. It says, “Who seeks perfection never understood the beauty of imperfection.”
She was physically beautiful and perfect, yet she was fake, shallow, plastic and unreal. Why would any man want this empty shell of a creature? How could anyone love someone who hated herself so much? How could someone love a woman who was so vapid on the inside?
And then she was back to her own table and her brochures and papers. She never told me her name. She never asked for mine. Those things didn’t matter. I wasn’t a real person to her. She was so absorbed in herself that the rest of the world didn’t exist.
She’s a sad zombie stumbling mindlessly through the world, on a search for perfection that doesn’t exist — in order to somehow gain acceptance or a cheap substitute for the love she’s desperate to feel.