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Line of fire

published: 2009-08-19

Bad voice. Plus all the wrong choices in terms of wardrobe. Why on earth did I decide to put on shorts this morning? The kind that creep up the insides of your legs?

And then of course today: a very-important-man-who-has-become-a-friend said he was in my neighbourhood and up for a spur of the moment lunch. In part, us having to meet was work related. Despite the obstacles, I decided to go. We didn't have much time – important people rarely do – and so he left before I did (I did not want to stand up, as I'm sure you'll understand). While waving to him, I remembered the last time I had felt like this.
Flashback to me being 23 years old. I was interning in NY and woke up one morning with half my face paralyzed. My coffee trickled down my chin, as did (I was to find out) saliva. I could no longer close my eye and so I had to wear an eyepatch. And my glasses over it. My speech was a slur.
Yet still, I decided to go to an interview with a Law firm. Why? I often wondered later on. I could have easily explained  "sorry people, but my face just so happens to be paralyzed." Instead, I went through with it. I remember thinking, "I have to be strong and handicaps cannot stand in the way of bla bla bla." Somehow, I thought my perserverance would impress. It didn't impress. First of all a paralyzed face startles people (believe me, you can really tell they're freaked) and next potential future bosses start pretending nothing's wrong when all they're thinking is "please, for everyone's sake: let's end this uncomfortable situation asap."
I kind of felt that way this afternoon. Not necessarily because of the shorts. But the voice-thing. It isn't always noticeable and I have no right to complain for that reason, but boy was I stammering now (I'll spare you the details of medical bureaucracy). And all boldness and braveness aside, the simple fact of the matter is: neurological disorders are not attractive. At all. They are a complete turn off, the same way shorts that creep up the inside of your legs are. So sometimes, it's wiser to exit gracefully than to throw yourself into the line of fire. On watching him leave, I told myself  "I deserve a medal." For what it's worth.

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