‘I beg your pardon,’ Dr. Maurice Strong, London’s top plastic surgeon, says with a perfect mix of British snobbery and scathing contempt.
Anybody else would have cringed, but not Britney. She has absolutely no problem repeating her certifiably weird request.
‘I want you to make my eyes look like a cat’s. You know, going upwards, like this.’ She lays both her pointer fingers on the outer corners of her eyes, and pulls the skin upwards, as high as her seventeen-year-old skin will stretch.
Dr. Strong glances at me as if he suspects this whole thing is some sort of a schoolgirl prank.
I’ll admit it’s a feat not to laugh at the crazy scene unfolding before my eyes, but I’m damn good at keeping my expression shit-hot blank. It’s more than my job’s worth to express even a hint of mockery at Britney’s frequent forays into lunacy. I’m paid by her father to follow her around, fetch, carry, and generally baby her.
How can I describe my job?
Well, I guess it’s a bit like the ass-wipers of ancient China. No, I’m not kidding. Straight up serious. Apparently, every great emperor had a manservant whose sole duty was to carefully clean his master’s ass after he’d done a number two, then carry away the precious royal droppings and dispose of them. You’d think that would have been considered the most horrible occupation a man could have, wouldn’t you?
The best part of this little nugget from the past is since the emperor was believed to be a god in human form directly from heaven, it was considered an awesome job, and eagerly fought over by many
candidates. Only the luckiest guy got to smell and possibly touch a god’s poop.
Unfortunately for me, other than the silent laugh factor of my job, there is no such satisfaction in mine. Getting nada from me, Dr. Strong pushes his glasses halfway down his nose (strange how plastic surgeons never have great noses) and peers frostily at Britney from the top of his gold-rimmed glasses. It’s obvious that he thinks she’s in need of professional help.
‘You want me to operate on your eyes to make you look like a … cat?’ he enunciates each word slowly, but drops the last word like a brick into the frigid air of his consulting room.
‘Yes, that’s right,’ Britney confirms, flashing a heartbreakingly happy smile and nodding her blonde head eagerly at him.
Dr. Strong sighs, as if he has done this way too many times, or he might actually prefer the ass wipe job. He clasps his hands on his desk and looks at her grimly. ‘I’m sorry, Miss Hunter, but I’m actually here to make people look better, not turn them into ridiculous freaks.’
That floors Britney. This never happens on her favorite TV program, Botched, where even the bizarre people asking to be turned into dolls and aliens are mollycoddled and treated with kid gloves by the two resident plastic surgeons. For a few seconds she actually looks alarmed. Her eyes widen and her mouth drops open. Then she sits forward hastily.
‘No, no, no, you don’t understand,’ she says, sheer panic of not having what she wants turning her voice into the high, whiny drone that always hurts my ears. ‘I won’t look like a freak. It will be brilliant.’
I’m afraid I’m not the doctor for you.’
‘Oh, but I want you to do it. You’re the best,’ she wails. He doesn’t know it, but we’re this close (half-an-inch between thumb and index finger) to a full-blown tantrum.
Dr. Strong takes on the expression of a man who is sitting on a toilet and has not eaten enough fiber to make it a worthwhile exercise. He sighs.
‘Then take my advice and stop trying to ruin a perfectly good pair of eyes.’
‘I’ll pay more,’ she offers suddenly.
Oh! Britney, Britney.
For the first time, a flash of anger shows on the good doctor’s face. He spears her with a stink glance. ‘If there is another issue you wanted to discuss then please do so, otherwise this appointment is over.’
‘But …’ Britney cries petulantly. ‘You did my nose and my boobs. You have to do my eyes.’
‘I don’t have to do anything.’
‘Oh please,’ she begs, her hands clasped under her chin.
‘I will not do it, but if you insist on having cat eyes there will, no doubt, be other surgeons interested in making you happy.’
‘I don’t want to go to anyone else. You’re the best.’
Dr. Strong shakes his head, closes the file on his desk, and looks at her with cold finality.
‘This is so unfair. I want cat eyes. I’m not asking for something unreasonable … and I’m paying. You can’t just turn me away,’ Britney rages.