The First Gyoengju Grotesque

The trick is the man’s nose, and you can’t forget that, because he’s quite handsome, and it’s easy to be fooled. Tall, fashionable, he wears gigantic black glasses that magnify his eyes and make them bulbous, almost amphibious; he wears striped long-sleeved shirts and blue jeans that are tight around his thin calves, which naturally end in nice flat ovular canvas shoes that one might find slapping the skateboards or sidewalks of any continent on the planet, except Antarctica. Most charismatic of all is the thin rainbow scarf looped once around his neck and thrown down over his not inconsiderable chest—and his shoulderblades, ah, what shoulderblades, you could cut diamonds on those shoulderblades, one must imitate such shoulderblades! A beautiful voice speaks from his dark Arabian skin, and in his confidence and self-assurance there is also a real friendliness expressed when he nods to you during the roll-call, or casually apologizes when someone’s name is misspelled—but do not forget his nose.

Even now the distant future inflames that nose. It’s as handsome as the rest of him, but the destiny of his youth is written nowhere else on his body, not yet, anyway. Just a little hint of rose blotches the tip, a mere nothing, a drop of wine in a bucket of water, but look closely and see the future: this kind of nose adorns the bald rotundity stuffed inside a grease-stained apron, one of many who while away their lives waddling around the Mediterranean with their swollen sausage noses dragging in the dust between their legs. Don’t be surprised if he joins their ranks. Like every nose, the source of this one, the reason for this one, is a pure mystery, though in our portrait’s case it may be one of many monuments to the pointless vanity of all human beauty in the face of time and age—indeed, a day will come when that nose is a ripe lump of rubies dominating the entirety of his physiognomy, when even little children pointing at him from a safe distance will have to duck before he swivels in their direction and knocks them down.

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