mandag, august 14, 2006

Face Time

The bathroom door in my room at Seoul’s Savoy Hotel made me look like a giant.

Writing at the cabana bar in Frost’s garden early on a recent evening, a waiter named approached, introduced himself, and asked if he could photograph me...with the impression that this would be outside of the environment in which he was asking me. He had something of a Wayne Coyne look (the lead of the Flaming Lips). “If you’re comfortable with it,” he added. I said I didn’t think I was.

“You’ve a great face,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of character.”

I know what that comment means, by the way, but I don’t find it offensive. I suppose (which is to say I know that) at one point in life, which is to say probably the first 26 of my 32 years—not surprisingly, I relaxed a great deal after graduate school—this character issue made me uncomfortable. But it really ain’t so bad.

(Some of you are like, "First 26 years? Don't you mean first 32?" In favor of that argument: I'm writing about this. I know, I know. I am my own best hagiographer.)

I remember seeing a wonderful Australian writer, Peter Carey, read from his novel True History of the Kelley Gang at the now-well-defunct, grossly misrun independent Ruminator Books. (Macalester College, the block’s real estate pimp, has put a Patagonia in that location.) Carey is quite a charming man. Really gracious with his readers, and really dedicated to his craft. (He tries something new on every book, which makes his work pretty hit or miss, but he hits most of the time.) He’s thin in a way that makes him look taller than I think he is. He has a rather weak chin and his front teeth stand out (though don’t stick out). His face is long and nerdish. And he has a really strong energy about him. (I would not write "But he has a really strong energy about him.") He seems like someone who laughs a tremendous amount, probably often to himself about things he doesn’t know if he should share.

My friend Betsy made one of the sharpest observations I’ve heard about a face. She said, “I like his face. It looks like the sort he’s aged into.”


I think these things are as much about becoming comfortable with oneself as they have to do with aging. A distinguished influx of grey hair can be rather helpful, though…at least for people with dark hair. For those of us who descend from the fair --and often ruddy--branch of Scandis, I think we’re better off just staying healthy, for every ounce of extra weight, every blood-sped drop of alcohol we drink, every moment of warmth from the sun or even tepid embarrassment shows dearly on our faces.

It's probably what makes us terrible liars. It's probably what makes us openly love simple things because it's so clear we (like nearly everyone) do. It's all there on the surface.

Example: I greatly enjoyed AMC's "DVD TV" presentation of Back to the Future last night. If you were to pass those films while flipping channels, I'd smile. I can't help it. I might burst into tears of joy if you pass Amelie.

Indeed, I hope I am someone aging into a face. I really like that idea.

As for the photographer / waiter, I politely shook the idea aside but made sure to say goodnight to him when I left. He asked me just to consider it. He turned away, then back briefly. He added, “I was thinking a 1940s' bowler hat.”
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by