Sunday, 11 March 2012

Double Chin

I’m a big fan of hypotheticals. They come in several different flavours. There’s the arbitrary test of morals (how much would I have to pay you to bite the head off a live kitten?), the kebab house test of sexual deviancy (would you rather drink a pint of semen or have sex with a Shetland pony?), and the Twilight Zone test of time paradox social activism (If you could go back in time would you murder George Lucas before he could make the Stars Wars prequels?). Then there’s the brand of hypothetical more commonly found in confessional poetry or Hollywood body-swap rom-coms: what one moment in your own life would you go back and change?

(Just to clear things up: £1 million, a pint of semen, YES GOD YES QUIT BLOCKING THE DOOR TO THE DELOREAN. No offence, George.)

I’m fairly certain that if I had a time machine the entire population of Earth would be made of toast and live by panning for nutritious jellyfish placenta in rivers of liquidised atmosphere that float in the newly polka-dotted sky caused by the uprising of our tyrannical mollusc overlords. Such would be the devastating butterfly effect that would result from my daily journeys back to correct some niggling mistake. So it’s difficult to choose only a single mulligan.  

With some thought, I’ve dated all my troubles back to a visit to my dad’s flat when I was around 10 years old. Dad, my sister, and I went in the lift, a lazy habit as it was only one floor up. We stepped out into the chilly grey-tiled hallway and walked to his front door. He had recently been burgled, and the door had been replaced with white-painted solid wood and fitted with three individual locks. My sister and I waited as Dad fumbled with the first key. Then for some reason he turned to look at me.

‘You’re starting to get a double-chin, David.’

My sister looked too and laughed. ‘Yeah, you are!’ she said, tapping the flesh underneath my jaw.

There was nothing malicious about this. If anything, it was a warning. The problem was that at 10 years old I didn’t know what a double-chin was. So I made the assumption that they meant this:

And I was pleased. Puberty was fast approaching. A vaginal chin would be a sign of growing up. I would apply the word ‘chiselled’ to myself at every given opportunity. I would grow my hair long and pose for photos in a meadow with a harem of golden retrievers. I could store letters and other correspondence in the cleft and use it to retain my sandwiches until lunch. Within seconds I had convinced myself that I had been paid a compliment. I walked into Dad’s flat with a smile on my face.

It wasn’t until years later that I realised what they really meant was this:

That photo is taken approximately one year later, after the period in which I single-handedly devoured Britain’s entire summer harvest and polished off two younger brothers about which the family no longer speaks.

I am in constant need of something upon which to blame my current failures as a human being. My past weight, approximately an additional 7 stone to my weight now, is like a small person I can practice all my violences on in preparation for the invention of time travel and my long-awaited meeting with George Lucas. If I had only known what a double-chin was and taken the warning, I might have done something to prevent its expansion. I might be a whole better person today.

And failing that, I would wait until my 10 year old self is alone, abseil through the window, kick the pie out of his hands and puncture his neck with a biro so he can never eat solid food again. He’d thank me for it one day.

So I’ll leave you with a hypothetical. Would you rather eat human faeces or... no, wait, not that one. If you had the chance, what single moment in your life would you go back and change? 


  1. your introduction was a bit...insane. But I like the meat of your reflection very much. I could think of a million different things to change, but the question I come back with every time is would I be different in a better way if I changed anything I learned from the hard way? I think not. I'm just that kind of person. I think you might be that kind too, just by the way you write. (I could be wrong; it's just a thought) Thanks for the food for thought. Hope you are having a lovely Sunday.

  2. You know, I honestly have a real dislike of that question. I believe it's sort of humanity's curse to be able to look back and think about what you would change. I think we definitely regret what we don't do much more than what we do.

    In a perfect world full of perfect people, we could all look back on our mistakes and say, "I learned something." However, that world be boring as hell and I don't wanna live there! Gimme our crapsack world full of confusion, regret and misery, thank you. And also a slice of that time pie would be great.

  3. This post is great. It makes you think about your past and wonder, What if? To be honest I'm one of those people that thinks everything I did and went through has made me the person I am today. I'm not perfect and I don't want to be but I wouldn't change a thing because I'm happy now. However it is an interesting question and if you could change things without consequences perhaps I would venture into the past...

    Either way I think a trip to visit George is a great idea ; )

    Morgan x

  4. LOL, Great Post!

    Who wouldn't change something from their past? If I could I would never stop for that awful coffee yesterday. Also, I would change a particular tv series finale: Lost. Oh, and The Glee Project would be just a figment of someone's imagination, would have never been a show:)... a show... unbelievable!

    Jess@ Jessy' Bookends