The grin. Stretched wide, like plastic wrap over refrigerated leftovers. All to show off how round the eyes are, unencumbered by any skin folds. My uncle. “What do you think?” he asks me. We talk on his vast wooden porch. Through the half-cracked sliding door, I can hear the television inside the house blaring as it always does.
My dutiful smile back. Inward, my lifted eyebrow. “They took off a lot.”
An obnoxiously loud laugh. “Of course they did, Eric, that’s the point. Seriously, what do you think?”
In seriousness? I’m reminded of my son’s birth. The red of my wife’s face, the urgings of the nurses, the claustrophobia, the hurricane of emotions in my stomach. Then, the child’s emergence, the clean-up of the viscera caked on him, the swaddling cloth, all placed in my arms. “Your son,” the medics cooed. My wife comatose. And I looked down at the babe and realized something was wrong.
My uncle looks wrong.
“They did a good job,” I say. For what it is.
“I’ll get the promotion now, I think.” He sips on his beer, an American one, his fondness for Korean ones like Hite long since forsaken. “It looks good. No more squint.”
But he never squinted. A stretch of flesh, nothing more, hardly in need of lifting. “It worked for Jackie Chan,” he kept saying beforehand. Fifty-three years, and suddenly, he complains about how hard finding good contact lenses are. A switch flicked on, and none of my family knows who the operator was.
He says, “Your aunt’s thinking of doing the same. You should think about it too, if you ever want to advance.”
As if I should be ashamed to be a teacher. In America, yes. But we shouldn’t feel that way. “I’ll consider it.”
“Dinner’s ready!” comes his wife’s crowing as she passes by the door. Inside, napkins and goblets sit on the coffee table, all prepared for seats on the couch. The television glares at us, its voice rampaging through our eardrums from its position of honor, a shrine begging for worshippers. My uncle and aunt sold their dining table last year for being too “old fashioned.” The new layout enables “open concept.” Buzzwords concocted no doubt by magazines my uncle read, all designed to make families further slaves to advertisement.
My son Timothy fiddles with his phone on the sofa, his eyes mesmerized. He enjoys sports but has no one to play baseball with here, so to the digital world he goes. He looks up at me and grins. He loves me. Likely anticipates tossing a pigskin around with me this weekend. And his eyes… as round as my uncle’s, but without the aid of surgery.
Logjammed by Blaise Marcoux / History & Fiction have rating 2.3 out of 5 / Based on34 votes