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Thursday, 25 January 2007

A Personal Appearance

It seems to me the ultimate challenge for any writer is to depict their own appearance in writing. From head to toe, or vice versa.

I am 5’8”, 48 years old and the hair on my head has not begun to turn grey. It is currently long, straight, parted in the middle. A nut-blonde colour, fawn. It may be thinning on top, but perhaps has always been like that. My high forehead is creased with an unusual maze-like pattern when I frown; like nothing I’ve ever seen on another. I am old enough that the bones of my face have begun growing forward, so that my forehead is noticably more curved, my nose longer than they were when I was young. The rims of my eye-sockets are prominent and thick, like my eyebrows, which meet. My eyes are blue and clear. They are quite far apart, and my nose is long, straight on one side, wavy on the other, as though it’s been broken, but I don’t know when. My cheekbones are high and wide, my face a little too bony; my mouth is large, my lips are thin but long and mobile, which is just as well, as my teeth are very bad; all the back teeth missing, and most of the top teeth broken off in the gum, tho the bottom set are better, just worn down like the teeth of a old horse. My ears have only been pierced once, by a girlfriend who pushed the earrings through the flesh with her fingers. Those holes have long since closed up. My facial hair is reddish compared to my head hair, and there is grey in my beard when I have one. At present I wear a moustache and shave my beard.


My neck and shoulders are neither scrawny nor brawny. I used to weigh 65 kilos during the many years when I was ill. Since then, I have gained 10 kg; much of the weight gained has since worn off but I am still over 70kg. My chest has little hair, I am not very muscular but I am healthily built in a normal, average way that is hard to describe. My crupper is wide, my waist narrow, my mother once said I have a good body for a girl. There is an appendix scar on my lower left abdomen and a number of small white scars around my belly button, where I subcutaneously injected cocaine and codeine at different times. There is usually some slight acne on my abdomen, below my ribs, in fact, it sometimes covers exactly the skin directly above my liver, and a brown mole over on my left side, level with my belly button. There is very little fat on my body, and what fat there is, lies on my belly, immediately below my navel: I can pinch it between my fingers, to a thickness of about an inch.

My arms are long, and I have a small crescent-shaped scar from an excised abscess in the crook of my right elbow, and a similar but larger oval scar on my left arm. More scars, four straight cuts, two small ones that cross and two larger ones lie across the muscle on the top of my left arm below the elbow, the longest with the holes on either side from six stitches. There is a sickle-shaped scar over an inch long on the back of my left wrist, and on the back of my left hand, where I lost a patch of skin, a large round scar has healed roughly. There are no visible veins left on either arm; the insides are smooth and featureless. My hands are slender and adept, musician’s fingers, they are sometimes a vivid pink as if inflamed but never puffy, and, though I am right-handed, the fingers of my left hand are as muscular as those of my right. There is a slight thickening of the flesh around the vein between each thumb and forefinger. My fingernails are heavily bitten, and sometimes the flesh around the nail too, and the fingertips, especially of my left hand, are calloused.

I have been circumcised, and I have the buttocks and thighs of a person who walks a lot. My legs are strong, and my shins are hairy. My feet are large – size 12, a full twelve inches long, hard to shop for, my toes are long and large and like to spread out. There is a spot of psoriasis on my inner left ankle; it has been there as long as I can recall.

But you will not see me naked often. I wear what I normally wear; no underclothes, a white button-down shirt, black corduroy-velvet, mildly flared trousers, black dress socks, and a brown corduroy single-breasted jacket. I never wear T-shirts or pyjamas. I have three pairs of shoes, Doc Martens, boat shoes and black dress shoes, and I often wear a tie. In winter I may reluctantly wear a plain sweater or a light-coloured coat.

5 comments:

TH said...

George - I'd love an update on this - 'what I look like now' - variation on the old 'what I eat now' theme. Could you bear to self-peruse in such vivid detail again?

George Henderson said...

Not much has changed! I'm now 55 years old, a steady 69Kg, no longer bite my nails, hair might be a little thinner and facial hair a shade greyer. I had all bad teeth pulled which leaves me with 7 across lower front. But most of this description is permanent, and I don't go around collecting new scars any more.
The psoriasis on the ankle has gone, which I credit to high SFA diet and vit D3; my skin is generally thicker and tougher than it used to be and doesn't blister.

George Henderson said...

I found a picture of a dude who looks similar (except the hair)
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/46/Statue_of_Zeus,_World_Museum_Liverpool.jpg

TH said...

Lookin good! I wear my fig leaf that way too.

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