Nose Job Hut

Come on down to the Surgery Shack for a brand-new face at used-car prices ... in easy monthly payments!

Published November 20, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

I'm watching Judge Judy be a badass, as usual, when a commercial comes on offering cosmetic surgery for no money down. That's right, no money down!

Once, long ago, cosmetic surgery was the exclusive domain of the rich. Now even mobile-home denizens can have instantly shapely buttocks! Is this a great country, or what?

I call the number on the screen to obtain my free "That Look" pamphlet, and before I know it, I'm learning that "cosmetic procedures are accepted today by people from all walks of life." According to the brochure, "Success -- whether in our business or personal lives -- often depends upon the image we project."

So ... cosmetic surgery is the ticket out of poverty? But isn't it, um, prohibitively expensive? "The value of new self-confidence and a strong personal presence go well beyond price."

Well fuck me sideways! This deal is too good to pass up! I wonder what would happen if, say, a rather unstable individual were to call and request several inane modifications. Would some sensible person try to talk him out of the procedure? Inquiring minds want to know.

I dial 1-800-IMAGES-1, and inform the operator that I saw their "Judge Judy" commercial, and was wondering if they could point me in the direction of the cosmetic surgery that's right for me.

"You don't have something particular you want to change about yourself?"

"No. It just looked like such a good deal, I didn't want to pass it up."

[Pause.] "OK. We do face lifts, eyes, around the mouth, tummy tucks, stretch marks ... um, that sort of thing."

"It's such a hard decision," I whine. "Couldn't you tell me what I need when I come in?"

"Generally people have something in mind. Do you have a particular area of the body you're not happy with?"

[Another pause.] "No, not really. I didn't really think about it until I saw the commercial. It looked like a such a good deal! I just like to go in and see what they suggest."

[This time, a long pause.] "OK ..."

Finally, I suggest that I might be interested in achieving more massive buttocks. She instructs me to fill out a That Look application.

Two hours later, a whiny-voiced woman calls to inform me that I've been granted a $7,000 line of cosmetic surgery credit! Hot damn!

"OK, now the doctor we selected for you is excellent," she says. "His name is Dr. Seys. It's spelled S-U-E-S-S."

"S-U-E-S-S? Dr. Suess?"

"Well, it's not pronounced Suess," she says.

This story writes itself! The discount cosmetic surgery people want me to go see ... Dr. Suess! A question forms in my mind: Will he cut me with a knife? Will he go and tell his wife? I quickly brush it aside. Anyway, I'll soon find out, since I've been granted a complimentary consultation valued at $250. Additionally, I've been entered into That Look's monthly drawing for a free breast, liposuction or nose procedure. I don't need any of these, but hell, if I win I would most certainly take advantage of their generosity.

Walking to the bathroom mirror, I stare deeply at my face. What would I change about it if I could? I draw a blank -- and then it occurs to me that my unstable and borderline psychotic alter-ego might be interested in a very large, plush and cushiony new forehead.

Time to go shopping for my new face! Having duly internalized the low self-esteem encouraged by That Look's literature, I hide my face from the world. I decide to wear a hood. (OK, well, not exactly a hood, but a wool cap worn very low on my head.) I've adopted the pseudonym "John Merrick."

I meet Dr. Suess at his pristine San Francisco medical office. Sadly, he isn't dressed like the Cat in the Hat; he's dressed more like a middle-aged doctor. I sit, head lowered, on his examination table.

"I'm not sure what I need done, so I wanted to see what you recommend." I crane my neck and stick out my face.

"Well, what do you want to get done?" he asks dryly.

"Can you give me your honest opinion about my forehead?" I ask.

Dr. Suess tells me to remove my Elephant Man hood. I hesitate.

"You might want to shield your eyes," I mumble. He doesn't. I unveil my run-of-the-mill forehead as though it were hideously disfigured. Dr. Seuss studies my pouting mug.

"I've been thinking about a bigger forehead. See how it goes like this?" My finger traces the contours of my forehead. I extend my hand outward. "I'd like a bigger forehead. Can you do that for me?"

Without skipping a beat, he says, "What we can do is inject fat into your forehead from another part of your body." Terrific! My forehead will be filled with fat. This will be ideal for comfortable head-butting. Dr. Suess explains the procedure in a very matter-of-fact tone.

I keep waiting for the moment when he'll grab me by the shoulders, shake me and scream, "Are you out of your mind?!" The moment does not come.

Instead, he explains the procedure. They'll insert a needle into a thick layer of fat on my thigh or buttocks, then inject it into my forehead. The process will be repeated until the desired amount of fat has been transferred. I practically hug Dr. Suess.

On a whim, I inquire about a brand new chin -- I'm an impulse shopper! Again, he dryly explains the chin procedure and shows me chin implants of various sizes. The bill for both procedures would total $3,200. Hell, put it on my account!

I'm directed to the receptionist. She tells me I can make an appointment for surgery immediately. I avoid setting a date, make my excuses and leave.

First thing the next morning, I get a call from That Look. A woman asks how my appointment went. I tell her I'm worried about my finances. "You're concerned about the payments? Well, let's go over them."

"OK," I say.

She immediately launches into the hard sell. She stresses the cost effectiveness of doing both the chin and forehead procedures at once, rather than putting one of them off. "Yeah, I don't know if I can afford it," I say. "Maybe I can sell some of my stuff."

"Well, certainly I'm not in the position to tell you what you can and cannot afford. According to what your credit report shows, you can afford it!"

I tell her I'm trying to decide between a new forehead and a new shotgun. She wisely implies that I must decide: Do I want a new face or a new shotgun? The discrepancy between the choices does not seem to faze her. Neither does my interest in firearms.

I mull it over. "My answer," I say, "is a brand new face!"

Now I can watch "Judge Judy" with newfound confidence. I can smile at the checkout clerk as I buy Top Ramen. And when I find I can't make the payments on my surgery, I'll wait for the repo man to repossess my head.

By Harmon Leon

Harmon Leon has written for Details, Gear, Maxim, POV and the London Guardian. He has written for and appeared on the BBC, and performed comedy at the Edinburgh Festival, the Adelaide and Melbourne Festival. He has also performed in England, Ireland, Holland, Denmark and New Zealand.

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