One morning, back when I was a teenager, I woke up with more than the usual amount of heads.
There was my original head, of course – the one on my shoulders, that had been there when I went to sleep. But now there was another, second head, rising triumphantly out of the exact middle of my forehead, a little like an illustration of Zeus giving birth to the Goddess Athena.
Of course, I rushed immediately to the mirror, where I was only slightly reassured to discover that this was not, in fact, a second head, but merely a spot. Oh, but what a spot it was! Although resembling a head in terms of its size and general shape, it had no head of its own, which meant that it couldn’t be deflated by means of squeezing. (Not that I would do such a thing, I hasten to add, for the beauty magazines are forever telling us never to squeeze spots, and of course I do EVERYTHING the beauty magazines tell me. Ahem.)
Instead, it just rose up out of my forehead, loud and proud: it was as hard as a rock, and there was nothing – and I do mean NOTHING – I could do to disguise it. Concealer only seemed to make the spot more prominent, and although I did seriously consider just slapping on a sticking plaster and pretending I’d hurt myself (after all, people are used to me being a clumsy fool, but a second head is just plain alarming), my mum talked me out of this course of action, and so it was that I was forced to go out into the world that day, and for the two or three days that followed, looking like a genetic experiment that had gone badly wrong.
(After two or three days, the Second Head deflated slightly, leaving me merely looking like Buddha, with a red dot in the exact centre of my forehead.)
As traumatic as my time with two heads was, I comforted myself with the knowledge that it was unlikely to happen again. Obviously, though, I was wrong about that, and from that day forth, every time I had a special event of some kind to attend, I could absolutely guarantee that the Second Head would return to attend the event with me, always appearing in the same position in the middle of my forehead, and each time looking even larger and more alarming than the last. The most notable occurrence of the Second Head: my first day in my new job as a journalist, when I was introduced to my future colleges looking like there were two of me.
(Strangely, my method of dealing with these situations has always been the same: I point out the Second Head to people before they have an opportunity to notice it for themselves. And, I mean, I would HOPE no one would actually be insensitive enough to mention it, but on the occasion of me starting my new job, the Second Head was SO prominent and bizarre looking that I felt I had to go around introducing myself to everyone with the words, “Hello, I’m Amber, and no, I’m not deformed, that’s just a massive spot on my forehead. Horrible, isn’t it?”)
Anyway, so birthdays, parties, dates, holidays – all have been marked by me having more than the usual number of heads. In fact, there are some people I only ever see socially who probably think I was born like that, such is the reliability of the Head. Lately, though, a powerful new player has entered into the game I like to think of as “Let’s Spoil Amber’s Fun In Any Way We Can”, and if you’ve been reading this site for the last couple of months, you’ll probably know of what I speak. No, it’s not the Haircut O’ Doom, (although that’s fairly reliable too), it’s the fact that I am guaranteed to get the cold or flu the day before any event I’m expecting to enjoy. See “Our Honeymoon“, “Christmas” and “That Time We Went to Tenerife and I Thought I Had Pneumonia” for evidence of this.
Lucky, I am not. At least, not when it comes to getting through supposedly happy occasions without either feeling like hell or looking like hell.
This Saturday, then, Terry and I had decided to throw a little party for some of our friends. We were both looking forward to seeing everyone, so naturally, as the day approached the main question occupying my mind was this: what would it be this time? Would I be either:
a) horribly disfigured by the coming of a Second Head?
b) almost totally incapacitated by the cold/flu/other illness?
Can you guess which one it was, folks? That’s right: IT WAS BOTH OF THEM! A double-whammy! Not only did I wake up on Friday morning with a raspy throat and runny nose, I woke up on Saturday morning with my old friend The Second Head in its customary place in the middle of my forehead! AAAAAARRRRGGHHHH!
I was fairly lucky in that the cold didn’t really get into its stride until yesterday, the day after the party (and I think the wine probably helped to numb my senses a little), but as for the Second Head… well, I can only hope our guests were distracted by the fact that all the heating downstairs decided to break a few minutes before the first of them arrived. Hopefully the Arctic temperatures helped distract everyone from the state of my forehead and if not that, well, surely the fact that we were giving them triple shots of vodka for every inch of mixer would’ve done it. I hope so, anyway.
Luckily Terry did manage to fix the heating halfway through the night, and my Second Head packed its bags the next day, meaning that I’ve now entered the “Looking a Bit Like Buddha” phase of my affliction.
I’ve still got that cold, though…