My wife and I turned 60 last year. We agreed to take a holiday, somewhere warm and sunny for a change, and that we'd treat ourselves to an extravagance hitherto unheard of in our lives: we were going to have plastic surgery.
Maggie had been going on about her 'flatbreads' as she called them ever since she'd finished breastfeeding. No matter how much I told her she was beautiful—and she truly is a beautiful woman—she was obsessed with her once-pert and full breasts, having been affected by the cruel laws of nature, gravity, and motherhood. At the same time, I had always been ashamed of my legs. That is to say, I am incapable of growing calf muscles no matter how much time I spent at the gym. I even went a full year standing on my toes to see if I could generate some definition, but alas, nothing could be done to generate any type of musculature. The lower half of my legs might as well be wooden pegs, knobbly knee-joints that taper to my ankles with no hint of musculature in between. I'd even had them X-rayed to see if I had some type of birth defect.
To my friends, I'd explained it was a condition called gastrocnemius gallus, which was a term I’d made up to elicit sympathy rather than ridicule roughly translating to 'chicken legs'.
What I did have in abundance was stomach.
During our research, Maggie and I read about a technique involving one partner donating excess fat to be used to sculpt areas of the other. Almost romantic in a way, I thought. It was this procedure for which we were booked in, transplanting fat from my gut into Maggie's breasts and my calves, with plenty left over for future touchups.
Maggie and I had spoken via Skype to Dr Than—the surgeon in Thailand—a number of times about the procedure, and, despite the language barrier, we had established a certain rapport. We were comforted by the before and after photos on his website and felt confident enough to achieve our desired results given the common nature of the operations. Against the wishes of friends who’d had procedures locally—and had been warned of horror stories about people going overseas for cheap cosmetic surgery—our minds were made up.
A few months later, we arrived at the surgery and were briefed on what was going to happen that morning. Dr Than shook our hands, we exchanged pleasantries, and we were then informed that Dr Than would not actually be performing the procedure. He had been called away to an emergency rhinoplasty for the King's daughter. Dr Than introduced us to another surgeon, Dr Suraj, who seemed lovely, albeit a little on the young side.
We were assured Dr Suraj was the best surgeon to oversee our procedures and that he was, in fact, preferred by those who had been treated by both doctors. This could be verified, we were told, by his rating on Google.
Satisfied with Dr Than’s endorsement, we signed the waivers. I’d had a routine biopsy conducted on a suspicious mole and knew that such waivers were only a matter of course. One could die from the most benign of surgeries, theoretically, so we were not apprehensive about reading words like ‘staphylococcus aureus infection’ and ‘post-procedural hemorrhaging’ and ‘death’.
Maggie and I wished each other good luck and looked forward to recuperating together in the deluxe beach-side suite that was included in the package.
When I woke up, my singular awareness was of a brilliant, almost comically-painful throbbing emanating from my torso. It was likely some hallucinogenic effect from the anaesthesia, but it felt like I had a radar dish in my chest shooting out green pulses that detected any abnormality in my being and returned chronic pain back down my nerves and into my brain. I could physically see the trauma in my body.
Delirious, I called out for Maggie and asked how her tits were looking.
I panicked for a moment at her response—her voice seemed small and heavily accented—until I realised it was a nurse. Maggie was already in our recovery suite having finished up much earlier than me. It had not occurred to me that her operation would be quicker than mine and now assumed that calf implants were more fiddly than your garden-variety boobjob.
It was at that point that I comprehended that the only area of my body not suffering debilitating pain was, surprisingly, my lower legs. I put this down to the localised painkillers they must be using and asked the nurse if she could give me a jab in the belly with whatever they’d used on my legs.
Of course, she didn’t speak English and promised to fetch the surgeon by gesticulating and bowing in the way that Thai people can do to make you feel as though everything will be alright and not to worry, nothing is too much trouble, please, sir.
The surgeon never arrived, but another nurse came and checked my bandages before explaining I would soon be with Maggie in our suite. While she was checking my mummified torso, I wondered how long until the swelling would go down and my true silhouette would be revealed, for, at that moment, it appeared that I was still very swollen from the chest down.
Sometime later, I was wheeled into our suite overlooking the beach and had the entertainment system explained to me, though Maggie appeared to have mastered it already.
“How long have you been waiting?” I asked.
“Hours, Richard,” she said, eyes glazed as she pressed the channel button with rhythmic repetition. “Days, maybe.”
Maggie was sitting in a comfortable-looking wheelchair and I longed to get off my hospital bed and to sit upright. The TV flicked through endless local shows and the occasional program I recognised but was dubbed with Thai. It drove me nuts and I looked at Maggie, spaced out like I hadn’t seen her since we were kids who’d enjoyed our fair amount of pot. Smiling, but … off. And, I had to admit, rather flat-chested. That’s when it dawned on me that something was horribly wrong
“Where are you bandages, Mags?”
“Hmm?” she said.
“Your bandages. Around your, you know–” I indicated my engorged chest area. “Why am I bandaged up like King Tut and you’re just in a dressing gown?”
“I have bandages,” she said, lifting up her left leg then her right. “See?”
“Why do you have leg bandages, Maggie?”
Maggie just shrugged and continued to flick through the channels.
“Darling,” I said through rising panic. “Can you come here a minute?”
“I want you to lift up my blanket and have a look at my legs.”
She wheeled her chair over, lifted the blanket, and we both stared at my pale, unbandaged, calfless legs.
“Oh, cock,” I said.
“You’re all better,” Maggie said.
It was clear at this point that Maggie was not going to be a coherent voice of reason, and that the swelling on my chest was, in fact, the breasts that had been intended for my wife.
When I called the surgery to voice my concern about my new appendages, I was placed on hold until Dr Suraj eventually assured me everything would be fine. They would correct the surgery once we had healed.
“Healed?” I said, remembering the brochure we’d read in the waiting room. “Isn’t that supposed to be twelve to fourteen weeks?”
The Dr confirmed this cheerfully and transferred me to the receptionist to schedule a correction.
I called my travel agent who explained that no, my travel insurance would not cover the cost of a twelve-week stay or return flights to Thailand for corrective surgery. When Maggie was compos mentis, she reminded me that she had insisted I check the insurance would cover such circumstances, and that I had assured her I had done that, which I hadn’t.
We had a row the likes of which I couldn’t remember having during 38 years of marriage. It was as if putting my calves on her legs, and her boobs on my chest, had been my fault.
Incredulous, Maggie called the surgery again and proceeded to berate the poor woman at reception until she spoke to the dedicated patient liaison who, thankfully, spoke English very well. Maggie put the phone on speaker for my benefit but the whole exchange, and the effects of coming off the medication, was making me feel nauseous.
“How in the hell does something like this happen?” Maggie fumed.
“Ma’am, you must understand we perform a wide variety of cosmetic procedures. You would be amazed at what people have asked us to do to their bodies. It is clear to me that your charts were mixed up—”
“Mixed up?” Maggie cried. “How do you mix up the names Margaret and Richard? Do you have a lot of Richards getting C-cup breasts here?”
“We judge no one at the clinic, ma’am. As I said, you would be amazed to know what we are asked to do. A man having breast implants is far from abnormal.”
“That might be the case for you but for me, my husband having better tits than me is going to be a very serious problem.”
After another half hour of this type of conversation, Maggie hung up the phone and we were left to convalesce in the suite for the next week. As compensation for the mixup, they threw in an additional week, during which, the pain and swelling subsided and we became more accustomed to our modifications. So much so that Maggie, once seeing her sculpted calves, decided she’d like to keep them.
I must admit, despite knowing her shapely legs were a product of my poor diet and lack of exercise, I caught myself admiring them. Ogling them even.
Back home, in the privacy of my ensuite, I unwrapped my bandages. There was still bruising, mottled purples and pinks that gave the impression of decomposition, but we’d been warned about that so I wasn’t overly alarmed. What did get my eyebrows and heartrate elevated, was the most magnificent pair of breasts I’d ever seen.
I turned to see my profile and admired the satisfying hang of them, set above what had been for decades a gelatinous mound of belly. I felt the weight of them. Still very tender, they ached, and I remembered how Maggie had slapped my hands away when she’d been pregnant and absurdly voluptuous.
Holding my breasts, cradling them in my hands, I was overcome by a sense of maternal love toward the world. That the starving children and animals of the world could suckle at my ample bosom, that I could sustain them. I closed my eyes and allowed the warmth radiating from my manaries, as I’d called them, to wash over me.
Is this what it’s like to experience motherhood? I wondered, sympathising—empathising—with Maggie’s desire to have a third child. The child I’d never agreed to. Perhaps we should adopt and I could be the one to nurse this time?
As I stood there, eyes closed, cradling myself, swooning, Maggie walked in and gasped.
“I was—I was checking for lumps,” I said.
Maggie smirked. Then she smiled. Then she pissed herself laughing.
“It's all very well for you,” I said, burning with shame. “You’ve come away with those beautiful calves and I have these … these—”
“They really are quite spectacular,” Maggie said. “May I?”
Shyly, I presented my chest to her and she took it all in. She looked like a teenage boy who’d walked into the adult movie section of a video store. She reached out and delicately felt the heft of them. She looked into my eyes for permission, which I granted with a gentle nod.
She gave my boobs a squeeze. I winced and she released them.
“Sorry,” she said.
“It’s okay,” I said, pulling my bathrobe around me. “I think I owe you a few gropes from when you were breastfeeding.”
“I would have murdered you if I hadn’t needed you to pay the mortgage.”
We shared a melancholy smile as we reminisced about the days of two children under three, no sleep, and barely making ends meet.
Then Maggie became sullen. I was about to ask what was wrong but it was all too apparent. Maggie was jealous of my rack.
“It’s okay, love,” I said, caressing her back. “If this is what they can do to a fat old bloke like me, imagine what they can do for you.”
We booked the first available appointment for the surgical corrections but we had to postpone at the last minute when my elderly mother fell ill. She recovered as well as 85-year-olds recover but we missed our spot with Dr Suraj and had to wait another two months, by which time flights to Thailand had been cancelled due to nearby volcanic activity.
And so here I sit, almost a year later, still waiting to have Maggie and my corrective procedures. Though with every day that passes, the urgency to have my boobs transplanted onto my wife becomes less of a concern. We’ve become accustomed to the elephantiasis in the room.
My father in law always said the difference between a bad haircut and a good one is two weeks. I’d say the difference between a good plastic surgery and a botched one depends largely on the surgeon and the recipient of the breasts.
We’ll get back to the surgeon eventually but, until then, we’ll continue to do our research and self-analysis. I’ve already identified the areas on my body I’d like to have fat redistributed into more aesthetically-pleasing positions.
We have also agreed to have our operations on separate days. While I have managed to get through the trauma of being perved on by every bloke I see, God knows how Maggie would deal with waking up to be the recipient of my penile enlargement surgery.