Saturday, January 29, 2005

Off Your Face!

UGLY people all over Australia have started furiously saving their money. Their partners, particularly those who read today's newspaper report about the latest medical breakthrough - human face transplants - are diligently helping them squirrel away enough for a deposit. They dream of one day waking up next to Redford instead of Redneck, Britney instead of Bushpig.

Yep, it's true. Two British surgeons have outlined their face transplanting technique in the distinguished medical mag The Lancet, and barely is the ink dry on the story than the queues have started forming.

Incisions would be made around the back of the head and the scalp of the dead donor, and the face would be effectively `de-gloved' off the skelton, declared surgeons Peter Butler, of the Royal Free Hospital in London, and Shehan Hettiaratchy, from Harvard Medical School's Transplantation Biology Research Centre. The implications of their nightmarish discovery are horrendous.

Their work raises serious ethical and moral questions, such as `What if Cher hears about this?' She'll be Turning Back Time and annoying music lovers for centuries. Shane Warne will never retire from the Australian Cricket side and poor ol' Plugger will kick more behinds than anybody should ever be entitled to.

But seriously, people will abuse this discovery. No mistake about it. It might be funny to watch an ad where a guy hallucinates that Merv Hughes haunts him everywhere he looks and everywhere he goes, but now it could actually happen. Now I've got nothing against big Merv. He did heroic things in the name of terrorising English top-order batsmen, and perhaps it would entirely inexcusable to see him behind the wheel of a cab or serving schooners, but I draw the line at him turning up behind the checkout counter in Coles, particularly wearing a name-badge with the word Sharon typed on it.

Other things could go wrong too. Terrible coincidences could occur. Imagine walking into MacDonalds and seeing your loathsome and recently-departed Aunty Beryl - the one who always forced you to eat mounds of boiled spinach when she babysat you as a child - smirking, alive-and-kicking, at the table next to you. That masochistic teacher who used to wield the cane with such relish at high school could turn up at the office after just a few hours under local anaesthetic at Dr Hettiaratchy's exclusive surgery, sit down in your boss's chair and reach for the rattan. And what about the consequences if they link this latest breakthrough with existing scientific techniques in the controversial field of cloning. An unsuspecting movie buff - one with taste and discretion - could stroll into a post office and be confronted by a queue of stammering Schwartzeneggers or swaggering Stallones.

A dozen Stan Zemaneks could join your beloved golf club. Just think about that! Or a flock of Bronwyn Bishops could over-run your favourite cafe without so much as a warning hiss of hair spray. Disaster!

There are cultural ramifications to be considered in proceeding with face transplants as well. For example, the concept of ``losing face'' will be changed forever.

What if rich people started hoarding faces, a sort of personal library to suit every mood. The point of calling someone ``two-faced'' would be lost, for example. It would merely mean that they couldn't afford to have a whole wardrobe. The wealthy would quickly amass a comprehensive range in the same way Imelda Marcos collected shoes.

Just picture the with-it social butterfly: "Now, let's see, a political dinner ... ah, of course, I'll pop on my Amanda Vanstone". Then off to a dance party ... hmm, time to clip on the Kylie.

"Facelift" would be the new term for shop-lifting, a "face-off would be a simple change-room, and asking somebody "why the long face?" would force them to pop on their Bert Newton to avoid further scrutiny.

On the positive side, though, face transplants could offer some interesting options in conflict resolution.Imagine the next time that bastard neighbour started harping on about the noise from your party, threatening to come over and punch your lights out. You could try a whole new approach:

"Sorry, pal ... yeah I know I'm an ignorant, dopey dickhead who doesn't deserve to breath ... look, just hang on a sec, will ya".

You duck indoors to your study, and quickly flick through your face-a-fax.

Hmmm, nothing much under the A index ... how about the Bs, then ...

Let's see, Barrymore, Belafonte ... yes, here we are, this one

should do the trick .... the Bin Laden ...

From the keyboard of guest contributor Sticko.

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