So, the other day I had a couchsurfer. For the two of you who still haven’t caught wind of couchsurfing.com, it is a social networking site that enables you to find people in cities that you are traveling to, who are willing to offer up their couch for you to stay on for free. When I moved to Charleston, one of my goals was to put it on the tourist map, and I thought that a nice way to start would be to sign up to host couchsurfers. I thought that I would have to do some major recruiting to get anyone to actually come to Charleston, but little did I know that Charleston happens to be conveniently spaced, for road trippers, between major cities to the north and south, and it looks big on the map, as it the state’s capitol, so people not familiar with the area are often fooled into stopping here. However, they aren’t fooled completely because they usually just use it as a stop-over for one night, coming in late and leaving early in the morning.
I’ve had about ten couchsurfers in the four months that I’ve lived here, but only one has stayed for more than one night, and that was because he was a traveling church album photographer (who knew this was anybody’s occupation) and he came to Charleston for work.
So when Andi, from Germany asked to stay on my couch, I just assumed it was for the night. Granted, when it eventually became clear that he was staying for nearly three nights (he left at midnight on the third evening) it’s not like I couldn’t accommodate this, I was just surprised. But having Andi stay so long meant that he was the first couchsurfer that I felt like I had a chance to get to know.
One evening Andi and I were hanging out at the house. Andi mentioned that I looked a lot like one of his friends, and he wanted to show me. So Andi went through a bunch of his pictures until he came across one of this girl that I kept reminding him of. He showed me the picture, which actually had two girls in it, both with brown hair, but one’s looked like it had been died a little lighter. This was the girl on the right. She was a pretty girl, but not overly pretty. She wouldn’t necessarily stand out as being pretty, but it would be hard to imagine someone thinking of her as unattractive or ugly. The girl on the left was pale and awkward looking. Her features were shaped in ways unpleasing to the eye. She was not someone who I would call pretty.
“Which one?” I asked. He pointed to the one on the left, of course. I guess I could kind of see the resemblance. She did have similar coloring, I suppose, and like her I guess I don’t have the most attractive facial features, but I’ve always felt that I was still at least average pretty, and this girl was definitely below average.
It was funny though, because my x-boyfriend recently started dating someone new and we all went contra dancing with a bunch of people, and one of the girls there was from out of town and she said, “Where did that other girl go?” and I was like, “Which girl?” And she was like, “The one in the skirt, the one that kind of looks like you.” And she was talking about Susanna, my x’s new girlfriend. And I just thought that was funny, for obvious reasons, but I also took it as a compliment because I think that Susanna is a pretty girl. But now I’m being told that I look like this ugly girl. So what did we all have in common? How am I, within in a week, told that I look like a very cute girl and a very uncute girl? Brown hair, no make-up, and petite-ness, that’s how.
“Yeah, I think there are a lot of girls who are just kind of plain looking and have similar hair and skin color and so sometimes people think we look the same,” I said to Andi. But Andi insisted that the girl and I had some similar features.
Then, the next day, Andi and my friend Trevor and I were just sitting around the living room when Andi said that he wanted to ask me something but that he didn’t want me to get offended. Now, that intro always leads to no good, but when it is coming from a foreigner you just have no fucking clue what they are about to dish out- you may be about to hear the most insulting thing in your life. But curiosity got the best of me, and I told him to go ahead.
Andi asked what happened to my nose. Now, I have this weird red dot on my nose. I’m not exactly sure how long it’s been there, but I think maybe for a year or two. It is right in the center of my nose, and people often mistake it for a zit, but it’s not, it is a weird, red dot. So, I said, “Oh, the red dot? I know it looks like a zit, but it’s not.”
But he said, “No, not that. The bump. What happened?”
Oh shit, how fucking awkward.
“Did you break your nose?” he asked.
How could I answer this question with out it being incredibly awkward for everyone in the room? My nose was so ugly to Andi that he thought I must have had an accident at some point in my life, which corrupted it and made it misshapen, when in fact this was the very nose that I was born with. I came out of my mother’s vagina with the building blocks for this nose already in place.
“Um… no, nothing has happened to my nose. This is actually the way I was born. It’s genetic. My grandpa and brother have similar noses.” I could feel my face flush with red, tingling heat. It suddently felt 150 degrees. I wondered how red I looked to Andi and Trevor. I’m sure it was noticeable as I’d been called out for blushing before. But no one called me out on my blushing this time.
Andi just kept staring at me. I didn’t want him to feel bad so I just tried really hard to act like it wasn’t a big deal, but truth be told, there are few moments where I have been more embarrassed.
What also made it worse was that I never even knew my nose was that bad, so it was kind of alarming. I mean, I knew I had a hump, but you can only really see it from the profile view, which I don’t really check out that much, since when I look in the mirror, I kind of usually just look straight in, at the whole front of my face, and you can’t really see the hump from that angle.
I don’t remember how we moved on to talking about something else, but somehow we did.
But after that, I had a bit of a complex. People don’t realize how one little question or remark can fuck someone up for the rest of their life. Honestly, for a second, I thought that it was time to start saving up for a nose job. But I could never really do that because then that just perpetuates the cycle and makes other people with fucked up noses feel more like freaks. No, I had to keep this nose to prove a point. To keep things on a level playing field, and to prove that I could still woo people, even with my ugly-ass nose.
But then, get this. The next day I had two other people over at my house. One of them was a guy named Glen, who I had met twice before, but hadn’t seen in a long while. We were all sitting down in my living room chatting, when guess what the fuck Glen asks!?? He asked me what happened to my nose!?
I couldn’t believe it. It was like he had somehow heard about what had happened before, and was asking it as a joke. But there was no way Glen could have heard. I hadn’t even told anybody about it! So why all of a sudden was everyone bringing up my nose!?
But then he said, “Oh, maybe it’s just a zit.” He was talking about the dot, okay, that makes sense. I gave the usual dot exclaimer but then I told him how it was funny that he asked about my nose, because my couchsurfer just asked the same thing the other day. I told him about the story of Andi asking about my nose and Glen said, “Yeah, well, I’ve seen you before, and it looks different now. It looks more fucked up.”
Now this was bizarre. Why would my nose look more fucked up now? Then, suddenly I remembered. Just two nights ago, Andi’s first night staying with me, I actually had bumped my nose on my nightstand. It had hurt really bad, but I just brushed if off. Could that have actually done some damage? Was that why everyone was suddenly asking about my nose!? I told Glen this, and he said that that must be it.
This was a huge relief. Which is really quite hilarious because it doesn’t mean that my nose is any less ugly, it’s just a difference in how it became so ugly. And for some reason answering the question, “What happened to your nose?” with “I hit it on my nightstand,” is so much less embarrassing to me then saying “I was born this way.” Yep, now my affliction is no longer something out of my control, something that I was unfortunate enough to be born with, but something that I caused, something that I made happen, damage that I did to myself in the dark night of my bedroom.
And who knows, maybe it will heal and my nose will become as good as new…