‘How the hell do you make that out?’
‘Well, you know, he’s like the enigmatic man behind the curtain who you go to if you want your wishes granted.’
‘And, like, he’s really respected… he’s great and powerful, just like Oz!’
‘And yet his subjects all…’
‘Yeah, subjects… they talk about him in a strange way – even in his presence – as though he somehow doesn’t understand the world around him; like he’s disconnected from it or something… but only because he’s so mysterious.’
‘How many codeine did you take this morning?’
‘But, y’know, ultimately, he’s just a normal man,’ I added, thinking back to the time when Jamie and I bumped into him outside Ping Pong in jeans and trainers. It was most disconcerting. Like finding Batman in his pyjamas, or catching Superman picking his red pants from out of his bum-crack.
But despite P’s insistence that it was the drugs talking, Smiley-Surgeon-as-Wizard-of-Oz is an analogy I’m sticking with. See, the cyclone that was The Bullshit (see also: Wicked Witch of the West) landed me rather unexpectedly at his door, and it was he who granted me my wish of… okay, so Dorothy didn’t exactly request a new pair of tits, but if you consider this the PG-13 version of the movie, with the lead played by not Judy Garland but, I dunno, Lindsay Lohan or sommat, then – with sufficient codeine – you might just get my drift. I mean, hey, I got the ruby-soled slippers, didn’t I? How much of a parallel story do you want?
Anyway, imagine – up this acid-trip of a yellow brick road – a scenario in which, after the great and powerful Oz has bestowed his gifts on Dorothy and her friends, the Scarecrow nips back a few days later, complaining to the wonderful Wizard that the right side of his new brain was slightly smaller than his left, hampering his creativity and innovative thinking and general show-offy-ness, and might His Wizship be able to do something about it please? Well, the Wizard would be well within his rights to take a fag lighter to the Scarecrow’s straw-cushioned arse, would he not? I mean, the cheek of it! Asking for a return on a graciously given gift from the ruler of the Emerald City? Pah! Anyone lucky enough to have been seen by the Wizard ought to be grateful for his gifts; indebted to his expertise; appreciative of his magic… not critical of his handiwork.
Imagine my nerves, then, when I had to force myself into much the same conversation this week. Because, looking down after my surgery to discover that the right side of my chest was slightly smaller than the left – hampering not necessarily my creativity nor innovative thinking but definitely my general show-offy-ness – I had little choice but to suck it up, get tough, come clean and look my whiz of a Wiz straight in the eye. Or, as it so happened, chicken out and grass him up to his assistant on the phone. Yup, that Cowardly Lion ain’t got nothing on me.
‘So I’m told that you’re not quite happy with the symmetry,’ said Smiley Surgeon, as I sat down sheepishly beside his desk.
‘You’ve dobbed him in, you idiot!’ said the voice in my head. ‘The man who saved your life – your so-called hero, no less – and you’ve actually gone and dobbed him in. Nice work, supergrass.’
‘Well, y’know, it’s just that I think I’m… uh, it’s like I said to the nurse… um, I just feel like I’ve… okay, yeah – the left one’s a bit bigger than the right.’
‘Let’s have a look, then,’ he said, pulling back his emerald curtain and gesturing at me to unzip my dress with an undeniable hurt in his eyes.
‘Ooh, I don’t know,’ he surmised, squinting at my bra (a bra I’d purposely chosen in order to demonstrate the one-sided bagginess to maximum effect). ‘I mean, it might be slightly wider on this side, but as for size, hmm…’
‘But look!’ I said, tugging at my saggy right cup, ‘There’s space in here!’
(Let us be clear, here – I’m not talking about a massive difference. It’s not like I’m so wonky that I’m walking around in circles; just that if you were to balance a spirit level on my left
nipple nupple, the bubble would definitely wobble off to the left. And yes, I have tried it.)
‘Well maybe you need fitting for a better br…’
‘Whoa, hang on – this isn’t my normal bra,’ I admitted, unhooking it. ‘This is my mastectomy bra. I wouldn’t normally wear this… it’s just the comfiest one I have right now, what with all the dressings and…’
I was this close to invoking the spirit-level defence when the curtain drew back again. ‘Oh yep, it’s definitely a bit smaller, isn’t it?’ interrupted Other Always-Right Cancer Nurse, bang on cue.
‘Ooh yeah, have a look from this angle,’ she said, beckoning SS over to the foot of the bed on which I was now lying.
‘Ah,’ he said, his disappointed forehead reading like a but-I-can’t-accept-anything-other-than-perfection subtitle. ‘Okay, I see. But it’s just a projection thing.’ He went on to describe how the implant on my right side is, in fact, bigger than the one on the left, owing to the muscle (taken from my back) which makes up for the shape he didn’t need to recreate in my second – less drastic – mastectomy; and how, during my most recent reconstructive op, he had to spend time cutting away calcified scar tissue which, without being removed, would have affected the cosmetic result. ‘But the shape is actually very good,’ he added.
‘Oh, yes! Absolutely, yes! The shape is amazing!’ I enthused. (It is, too. Even despite the size discrepancy, I keep sneaking into the bedroom and lifting up my shirt to have a look at them in the mirror, and I haven’t done that since… hell, I’ve never done that.) ‘Indeed, yes, the shape is really very good. Very good. Thank you so much.’ I felt like a proper git for ever having said anything in the first place. ‘Yeah, thanks for rescuing me from the top of that burning building, Batman, but that dismount when we landed was shite.’
But what could I do? I’ve come this far; giving up on flawlessness (well, flawlessness through the eyes of Bullshit-ravaged boobs) at this point would be like Leonardo da Vinci finishing a painting, smudging his signature and going, ‘aw, sod it, it’ll do’ (in an Italian rather than Derby accent, obvs). Not that I’m comparing my reconstructed bust to a masterpiece, you understand. Actually, fuck it – they are a masterpiece. And, when I’ve been off to see the Wizard for his next bit of work – switching the implant for a slightly bigger one to get the symmetry 100% spot on – they’ll be even more of a masterpiece because… well, because of the wonderful things he does.