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The His-story of an Ugly Man

There he sits. He watches the young woman in high heels as she moves serenely around the chromed pole in the go-go bar. He does not make a fuss or seek the eye contact of other farangs. He just tries to forget as he sips his beer.

Let me tell you about the Ugly Man. He is a very gentle soul. A childhood accident left him with a sizeable scar on his face and a crooked nose, but he is kind person and not a hateful or bitter spirit. He has never had much luck, but he is fortunate in one sense: he stands almost six feet tall and his body is still relatively strong. He is 52 years old and he works as a lowly railway porter in Australia. In fact, he has worked for the railway for nearly thirty years.

This man has never been attractive in terms of what is commonly deemed attractive. It is the opposite: he is defined as “ugly.” He sweats when he works, as all men do. His blonde hair is thinning and greying at the temples. Women generally ignore him unless they have to ask for his help or his necessary strength to lift objects.

He can hold a pleasant conversation on banal topics, but he was never that ‘bright’ in school – that was what his female teachers always said – although the truth is that he was dyslexic. His intelligence is actually in the range of average and his hands are strong and he has some common sense. But he has never been outstanding in any area of life and he has never been lucky with women. When he smiles, it seems to make his scar more prominent, if that can be considered a toxic crime in an age of rampant narcissism.

As a young man, he was painfully shy. He still keeps mostly to himself. He watches when others are flapping their gums. It is in his nature.

He never drinks too much. After years of being alone, he made the mistake of marrying a mercenary woman from the Philippines – a real vixen in sheep’s clothing. She took just over half of everything he owned in 2012, so now he lives in a rented unit in Brisbane. He tried to go for a promotion, but an Indian woman took the job that he was looking to fill. Her English was marginally better than his, and although the Ugly Man had vastly more experience, Queensland Rail wanted to be seen as an Employer of Choice – so he missed out. Still, he didn’t mind. Someone has to be at the back end of the carriage. Such is life.

His solace in life was and is to travel to Thailand once or twice a year.   Even though the scar has never left him, in Pattaya, at least, this gentle fellow can shed his disfigurement and become – for a few nights a year, at least – a Handsome Man.

He has not bedded that many women – maybe only three or four every holiday – but he is generous and considerate. He has a “good heart” but he isn’t a total sucker. He pays for his tickets and he travels well and he feels no guilt – why should he? The benefits are mutual. The ladies were always happy and it gives him some brief contentment; an escape from his toxic ugliness.

He works. He pays his taxes. He is an invisible cog to most people. He smiles at the commuters and greets them, even though he is often ignored because of his face. He has never hurt a soul in this world.

As he watches the young woman – who might be only twenty, or twenty-two, perhaps – he wonders about her story. Has she been as scorned in life as he? He will never know, but he can put himself in the shoes of others. He has lived long enough to learn empathy.

But why should we be concerned with the Ugly Man or his plight or his sympathy for others? It is easier to ignore him or cast aside his life. It is easier to focus only on the girls…and this is what some of the literary bourgeoisie would have us believe. But everyone carries their hurt and their tattered life – everybody tries to keep their spirit intact in this heartless world – and everyone has their story.

The author of this article cannot be contacted.