Anna-Leena Harkonen



A Nose for Beauty

One day it appeared at the side of my nose: a little red line. I thought it was a pimple, but my beautician told me it was an enlarged vein.

I was immediately overcome with anxiety. I knew that enlarged facial veins are common among people who indulge in drinking. Would everyone think that I drink too much?

No. It was an ordinary phenomenon related to aging. When I was younger, I used to think that everything was about attitude: you won’t age if you simply refuse to age. Now I know that gravity beats attitude.

ONCE, IN LAS PALMAS, I got to talking with a man spending his retirement there.

“How did this happen to me?” he asked and took a sip of his cava. “I was so good-looking when I was young: Elvis from the front, and Tarzan from behind.”

A friend in his seventies bought dark brown hair mousse to cover the gray. The result was good, which inspired him to dye his mustache.

“I looked like a despot,” he said. “I was startled to see myself in the mirror.”

ONE DAY I BECAME convinced that the shape of my face had turned into a box. Of course, I had to share this shocking news with everyone. The situation escalated, and a friend eventually told me, before an evening get-together, that “there will be no more talk about boxes.”

“Listen, you know nothing about aging yet,” she added. “Soon I will be making felted wool gnomes in a nursing home, and I’ll no longer remember my name.”

Apparently, many people are more worried about loss of memory than about pain.

I HAD A FACE-FIRMING procedure done some time ago. Despite the medication, it was so painful that I almost walked away. I asked for more painkillers, but I had hit the limit.

“Do you have booze?” I asked the nurse. “If you don’t, this is it. I’m leaving.”

“As a matter of fact, I do,” she replied, confused. “Bourbon.”

She gave me a shot in a plastic cup. I poured it down my throat.

Perhaps the booze helped, perhaps not. Nevertheless, the procedure was pure hell. I felt as though I had been beaten and robbed in a dark alley. After the treatment, I was red and swollen for days.

And did it help? Yes. I must believe that it did.

I TRIED TO HAVE the red line removed by laser, but the dermatologist thought it was not a good idea: this procedure would also be costly and painful, and it would need to be repeated three times.

After all that, the line would only become lighter; it would not disappear. The doctor advised me to cover the line with makeup and then forget all about it. Really? You live and learn.

© Anna-Leena Harkonen 2022

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