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Big noses run in my family. I think they're pretty. My sister is beautiful. She has a fine straight pretty nose, but it is bigger than the kind of nose a sixteen year old girl usually wants to have. My sister was a sixteen year old girl at one time, and she was not happy about her nose.

"Why do I have to have this big ugly nose?" she said to our father, "it's not fair."

"Renata," our father said slowly, "Renata...have you ever seen a despot with a little nose?"

As far as our father was concerned, this was a suitable ending for the conversation.

My sister has a daughter now. She is young and lithe and beautiful. She looks like a small Uma Thurman, with a nice nice Uma Thurman nose. Her name is Alexandra but when she was nine she decided that she preferred the name X.
One day when X was nine I was sitting on the stairway looking at a painting that I made in college, of a girl's profile. X came and sat next to me and looked at the painting too.

"Do you think I made that girl's nose too big?" I asked her. "I think I made the nose too big."

X regarded the nose for a moment. "No...." she said, "I think she looks like a nymph. I always thought of nymphs as having big noses."

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