Seeing this thread
reminded me of my time after my jaw surgery.
So, when people learn what happened, they usually flinch. Six bone cuts. My upper jaw was split and widened, my lower jaw was shortened and moved, and my chin was cut off and re-attached. Six hours in surgery.
But that wasn't obvious by looking at me. All they saw was a girl who couldn't stop drooling, held a towel under her mouth, and was very very swollen.
The weekend after the surgery, I decided to spend the rest of my savings ($200) on books. I went to a major bookstore, and wandered around. I spent most of the time on the floor, due to the fact that I was a super-picky eater, and even more so now that I couldn't swallow properly (for drinks) and couldn't chew.
When approaching the store, a little girl watched me in amazement. I didn't mind that, as I figured I'd have done it too.
While walking across the store, a woman gave me the dirtiest look I'd ever experienced. If it were words, I was sure I'd have heard: "You're so ugly you don't deserve to breathe the same air as me."
I went to the help desk to find something. I'll give you what he heard, and what I said in parenthesis.
I approached him. He looked me up and down, then said:
Him: can I....help (pause) you?
Me: I want know where the computer programming books are (mind you that I couldn't really close my mouth, and my tongue had to adjust to my new teeth positioning. I wasn't wired shut per-say, they used my braces as built-in wires, and I had a plate in the top of my mouth.)
Immediately he started speaking faster, and seemed kinda confused. It occurred to me later he probably suspected I had something like Down Syndrome.
After that, I only really got three notable reactions. I had to go to school like this, and I got a girl that wanted to know why I had a washcloth on my neck. I leaned over to show her.
Another gave me an incredibly dirty look when I tried to tell her the caste system was the Hindu classification system, but it came out as "Cath".
Finally, when I went back to this store a month later, I was told I looked a lot happier and that I clearly felt better by the cashier who must have rung me up... but I was too high on painkillers to notice.