A Poorly Written Tale of Woe With a Happy Ending

I was riding home from New York on the subway a few months ago with my friend Paul. I was feeling restless and bored, having listened through several CDs and read a single chapter in the book I had brought with me - apparently a mere placebo when used against the giant boredom. So I leafed through the magazines placed in the pocket in the back of the seat in front of me for my reading pleasure. Politics - flipped the page. News - flipped the page. Flipped the page. Flipped the page. Wait, turn back.

An ad for some sort of porcelain caps. Apparently they put them on your teeth so that even the cavity-ridden can have that "movie star smile." Of course, they featured a before and after picture - you know them, they show the terrified audience some pitiful specimen of a human being who had been rescued from the pits of ugliness and introduced into polite society through this miracle intervention. But here's what caught my eye: the before picture wasn't some specimen of poor grooming and despicable eating habits. She was actually quite beautiful, not in a magazine model sort of way, but as in that cute girl who sits up at the front of the classroom beautiful. She appeared to be laughing when they took the picture, so her two-dimensional image was quite eye catching. Then I looked at the "after" picture.

She was still beautiful I guess, and in a magazine model way. Her natural smile had been distorted into something fake and unreal, a smile that let you see the very veins in her gums. The corners of her mouth had been teased into what would barely pass for less than a grimace - I could almost see the invisible wires holding her in place, like some sort of bonsai tree. Of course, it was not just her teeth and smile that had been changed. Her hair had been let down; it streamed from her head to her shoulders instead of tied in a bun like it had been in the before picture - I'm guessing it is convenient to have hair that doesn't get in your face when you do things besides stare fixedly ahead with a permanently frozen grin. Her face was heavily made up, giving it a mask-like appearance. Apparently the makers of the ad figured no one would go halfway with something like this; if they did they would be back to change the rest. I've heard it's that way with breast implants. The first size is never big enough, the women who have it done always go back to give their breasts that baseball shaped form sported by all your favorite porno stars.

I closed the magazine, I got up and stretched. Then I went to get a hot dog from the food cart.