Tuesday, February 03, 2009
My favorite perk of being a nun is that I never have to think for one second about whether or not I look pretty. I do check myself in the mirror to make sure I am presentable. No one takes you seriously if you have spinach on your teeth.
But as long as I'm tucked in and freshened up I'm good to go.
I wish everyone had the same luxury. I suppose they could have the same luxury if they just thought about life a little differently. But I am willing to concede that if one's vocation (using the word somewhat more casually) is to, say, read the news on TV, one can't show up like a sack of potatoes. One has to look one's best.
I don't have to look my best. I just have to look--to make sure I don't have spinach on my teeth.
I am of course surrounded by quite the opposite, living where I do. It's amazing that someone can spend so much money to look young and beautiful and end up looking like a Mr. Sardonicus.
Does anyone remember that story? It was a favorite of mine as a girl. Mr. Sardonicus finds out that his father has been buried with a winning lottery ticket in his vest pocket. He decides to dig up his father and grab the ticket, but realizing that this is a perfectly horrible thing to do, he warns himself that he must not look at his father's face while he is digging around at the corpse. Of course, he has to look. Having been dead for awhile, the skin on the corpse has pulled and stretched into a hideous grin. Sardonicus flees. I guess he had the ticket, I can't remember.
When he arrives at home he slumps over the sink and shakily washes the crime dirt from his hands. He raises his eyes to the mirror and there, staring back at him, is the same monstrous expression. His face is forever frozen in this hideous grin.
Hence the name. I suppose his name wasn't Sardonicus until he went digging in his father's grave. Anyhow, he spends the rest of his life trying to find a cure for himself.
After that it becomes a horror story as he captures people to on which to experiment. He is finally outwitted by a plucky couple who injects him with his own powerful muscle relaxant, which relaxes him to death. Actually, I think it relaxes him into a puddle, the couple runs for it and Mr. Sardonicus dies a cruel death unable to move. But I think his face went back to normal there at the end.
The best part of the whole story was the picture on the book cover. Chilling!
Which brings me to today's question:
Hey Sister what do you think of plastic surgery for the dead? Yep, a little botox for uncle Frank so he can look 10 years younger in the coffin. What will they come up with next?
Offhand, I would agree with you. It does sound vain and ridiculous to try to make someone look younger after they are dead.
But upon further reflection, what's the difference between a little botox and all the other cosmetic implants and pancake make up and false teeth and hair pieces that go to the grave with dear Uncle Frank? Undertakers have all kinds of tricks to plump up sunken eyes and cheeks, to hide gashes and scars and make every one look as pleasant as possible. I've seen quite a few of the faithful departed looking like quite bizarre and not at all like themselves.
The idea is to make the person look good, or as good as they can possibly look with no soul to animate them. It's not for the person in the box. It's for the rest of us to have a peaceful last memory of them and to get our heads around the fact that they are dead and gone. So...botox, cotton wads...whatever...
Most of us can't rely on being incorrupt like our sainted brethren. I can't see a problem unless it was some sort of vain last wish of the person who had a vanity problem to begin with and asked the family to spend money they didn't have to make him look ten years younger. Even then, we can't judge.
Let's hope our dying wish is not for botox. But if you were Dr. Sardonicus we would understand.