It Didn’t Work Out

Based on a true story.

Boy: “If you could have plastic surgery on any part of your body, would you?”

Girl: “Oh my God, no way.”

“Really? Why not?”

“If I really think about it … I don’t know. I guess because no part of me is so entirely and constantly debilitating that I would want to change it. And spend all of the money on it. And I imagine it would be really painful and there’s no guarantee it would work out. If I thought it would make my life sufficiently better and really impact my overall happiness then there would be a difference. But I guess … I guess I think I should try to be more accepting of who I am than to try to change something.”

“Oh. Ok.”

“… Why? Would you?”

“Yeah, I would.”

Really? Where?”

“On my nose.”

“Really? There’s nothing wrong with your nose.”

“It’s too big. I don’t know. I just hate it.”

“Hate it enough to get plastic surgery? I mean –“

“Yeah. Absolutely. It’s bumpy. I just, I just hate looking at it. But I can’t believe you wouldn’t change anything. Like, if money were no object and you could change one thing. Any thing. Anything.”

“I think your nose is great. Really, I wouldn’t lie about that. But what are you saying? Are you trying to imply something? What do you mean?”

“No, no, I’m not. It’s just, you know, if you could change one thing. What don’t you like?”

“Come on. You know me. It’s not just one … Don’t you think about what it’s going to be like later?  I mean, I’m going to get old and I might gain weight and I’m definitely going to have wrinkles and maybe my acne will last way into my twenties and there’s no plastic surgery for that. And maybe I won’t be able to lose baby weight or maybe I’ll just love desserts because I do and then even if I got something done, like liposuction or something, it wouldn’t matter after a while. We’re supposed to be flawed, I think. I don’t know … don’t you think that we’re more than what we look like?”

“I don’t know. Are we?”

“God, I hope so. You’re always going to have flaws. Definitely on the inside and those don’t go away with plastic surgery. And that’s ok. That’s what makes us us. Human and all of that symbolic stuff. Like, even if my thighs were smaller I’d still worry too much.”

“I mean, I guess.”

“What are you saying about the way I look?”

“I’m saying that you could look better. I could, too. It’s not that personal. Everyone could. We can always be better. But wow, what you were saying … I don’t want to get old. That … that scares me.”

“Aren’t you still going to love someone when she gets old and doesn’t look the same?”

“Well, yeah. I, I don’t know. I guess it’ll just be a different love.”

“You’re making me feel sad.”

“No, you’re making you feel sad.”

“What you said hurt my feelings.”

“What I said caused you to let your feelings get hurt.”


“Think about it.”



My eyes are the same color as my hair.

A hazel, muddied mix of brown and blonde stains my irises. I lean in to my mirror and inspect the color. Instead of seeing the pigment, I see more of my reflection. A smaller version of myself in the center of my eye that gets bigger as I lean closer, closer, closer. My face, the color, becomes more magnified in my own view. It all blends together, but the tint doesn’t change. I am my reflection. But what is the color? Is this shade only mine or do others have it, too?

Is there anything inside of me that I can call my own and only my own?

I’m worried it’s not enough to be just one shade. If I had a palette full of colors in the snapshot of my face, I might be able to camouflage the unseemly tints with better ones. But sometimes, even the most dazzling colors can’t disguise the deepest stains.

Is there any one thing I could tell you, one color I could show you, that would distinguish me from everyone else you’ve met?

There is a chance, if I showed more than one shade in my above-the-chin snapshot, that it wouldn’t come out looking like a rainbow. It might be a Picasso painting so disorienting it would alienate the people who looked at it and make them move onto something better looking. Something that made sense and wasn’t so messy. A Monet. A tranquil flower scene filled with perfectly placed dots and brushes of paint.

Inside, I feel a lot of colors mixing together in a funnel-shaped panic. Fallow is the triumphant hue in my face. It escaped. The rest battle for a chance to show themselves. But it’s hard to know what to let out and what to keep in. It’s hard to know if any color is so special it would make a difference. If it would change how you saw me. More importantly, if it would change how I saw me.

For now, I will keep them all hidden inside. The hazel, muddied mix of brown and blonde stain can remain.

Because, is there really anything inside of me, or you, that we can call our own and only our own?