I’m going to do something that I pretty much figured I’d never do. I’m going to post a photo of myself, unretouched, without any makeup or clean up whatsoever. I’m doing so because it helps make the point of my story.

I find myself the unwitting victim of a sociological experiment.

As mentioned here, I had some heavy dental work done on Monday. The tooth is healing fine, still a little cold sensitive, but all in, healing well.

However, in the process of giving numbing injections so the dentist could work on my tooth, he accidentally hit a blood vessel in my cheek.

So, as expected, the vessel bled out leaving me a bruise below the skin, which, due to gravity, has traveled to my jawline.

As this week has progressed, the swelling has gone down and the tooth has improved but the bruise has gotten blacker and meaner looking.

I’m feeling fine but my face is a mess.

Today, I ventured out into the world to try to find some new spring clothes for work. Because I am a cheap ass b*stard, I went to the “discount fashions for less!” type of stores to shop. Make my dollars go farther.

Fascinating sort of clientele you get in the low, low price kind of stores.

The kind that yell at the fitting room lady because she miscounted their stack of clothes. The kind that shout angrily to all in the store, “C’mon honey, let’s leave, the line is too long, this is ridiculous!!” (both of these stories are true).

Yeah, so I’m out in the world looking at work pants and minding my business. Me being me, inside my own body, I don’t see the bruise on my face unless I look in a mirror. What I do see are people’s reactions to me. I am continually reminded I have a beat up looking face.

I am reasonably certain that a fair percentage of the society I have encountered thinks that some guy has hurt me. At least I suppose that is what they think…I can’t read minds…much.

It really freaks me out that someone, even one person, would think my husband might hurt me like that. It makes me feel defensive and, yes, angry.

I guess I can’t blame them in their assumption, but what a sad commentary on how we live our lives. The whole Rhianna/Chris Brown thing is top headline news right now, so everybody has an opinion.

From a sociological standpoint, here’s what is interesting. Today I went to six different stores and encountered fellow customers, fitting room attendants, store clerks and cashiers, all of them women.

Older ladies, say 50 and above, looked at me with sympathy. I got a kind of “I’ve been there, honey” look, and they would treat me with kid gloves. Called me “dear” and patted my hand.

Younger women, 30 or less, treated me with disgust. Most wouldn’t meet my eyes or would narrow their eyes at me when I approached. I even had a young lady, another customer, look at me, stare at my bruise, then turn her head and say “ugh!”, shrug her shoulders and walk away.

I don’t know what this means. I do know that it is kind of freaking me out. It’s also playing hell with my self-esteem.

As a woman, I have a profound bit of fear and healthy respect for women who have lived through the torment of an abuser in the form of a boyfriend or a husband. I am not that woman. I want to yell to all who will hear “It was my dentist, for chrissakes!,” but really, at the end of the day, no one cares. We all just want to cast a judgment and go on about our bargain shopping day.

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