The Four Faces

I have four faces: superior, vexed, involved, kind. I get to choose a face in any circumstance. Faces that I will not discuss are connected to sex. Sex is confined to the privacy of one’s home or, if one is of such inclination, a ‘private club’. This is about my faces in public.

When I go shopping, or collect a Tesla I configured online, I use the vexed face, or the superior face, or both, alternately. The vexed face is to demonstrate boredom, or that one has more on one’s mind than laying claim to one’s victuals or the next haut-de-gamme electric car.

The superior face is close to how I actually think about people in general. I feel very close to the superior face. If I elected to, I could use it in all encounters with relatives, friends and strangers alike. That is how close I feel to it; it fits like a glove. The main point of the superior face is to keep one’s head up, look straight and purposefully into the world, but not look at anyone, not meet anyone’s eyes. The point is to look right through people, never to avert one eyes, oh no!, but to ostentatiously not connect visually. The point is to make others feel they are mere props that one is aware of from the corner of one’s eye just sufficiently so as to avoid tripping over them.

The involved face is for my work. When I’m thwarted I may switch to the superior face. But I will never use the vexed face. I’m not really involved in anything. I cannot imagine anyone being really, truly involved in anything, ever. I think the only thing one can be involved in is oneself and the books one reads, and that every protestation to the contrary – let’s say “I’m involved with the fate of my fellow human beings” – is fundamentally untrue, if not a non datur. But even if I’m not involved, I’m very smart, a very hard worker, a director, a boss, bent on making as much money as possible in the shortest period of time, and successful at it. And so I became a director within a year from joining the company. I got to lead our MENA expansion strategy. I’m a fully-functioning madwoman. If I let them I bet they would diagnose me smack at the top of the autistic spectrum (or is that the bottom, the pit?).

But the face I really want to discuss is the kind face. My father died two months ago. He was 96. I loved him. I used to take him out on walks through a park in the vicinity of the care home he was in. I did this every weekend, every Saturday and every Sunday. He was in a wheelchair. I pushed it along. My disposition was usually one of mildness. Pushing the wheelchair, I used to use my kind face, making friendly conversation with my Dad. I have bought a wheelchair. Almost every Saturday and Sunday I put it in the trunk of the car parked nearest to the exit of my garage and take it to the park. I unfold the wheelchair and start pushing it over the suspension footbridge (designed to emulate a jungle bridge from a Pirates of the Caribbean or Indiana Jones film) marking the entrance to the park (the park can be entered from four blocks enclosing the park, and each entrance has a similar footbridge). The empty wheelchair is much easier to push than the old one with my father in it. I notice people looking at me as I effortlessly push the empty wheelchair over gravel paths, through grass fields, along narrow sand tracks in the occasional patches of forest. I start talking to my imaginary father. I talk to him as I would have talked to him if he were still alive and sitting in that wheelchair. This is not difficult, because the conversations I had with him during our walks were mostly one-directional anyway. His mind was clear to the end, but his hearing had deteriorated and he had trouble speaking because of a progressive muscular, ataxia-kind of disorder. I’m speaking softly, kindly, my face radiates kindness. I find that this is a very effective method to ignore the loss of one’s beloved Dad. I can make him to continue to exist well and truly for me. Since the loss of a dear one, the grieving, the ‘mourning’, that most meaningless and overestimated of man-made concepts, is nothing if not all about oneself, how would this not be enough?

If people in the park may think at first that I’m just transferring a wheelchair from one place to another and only start second-guessing their assumption when they see me take other routes than the shortest from the one entrance to the park to another, they start positively throwing commiserating glances at me when they hear me talking to the ghost in the wheelchair. People are not disgusted though, as one’s natural reaction to madness is. They will not give me a wide berth. This is because I walk tall and my posture is erect and because I’m attractive and superbly dressed. And because I’m wearing my kind face. I hate madness in others. Madness is incurable and one cannot seriously transact or communicate with, or effectively relate to, people suffering from a mental disorder. But to be a lunatic oneself and in total control of one’s madness, to be able to be both its directress and its actress, that is really just the thing.

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