Everyone has some sort of imperfection about them – some aspect of themselves they don’t quite like. It could be a lazy eye, or a grey hair that grows longer and more untamed as time passes on. Perhaps a clubbed foot ails you, or you carry the faint odor of fish. The point is, everyone has something about themselves that they wish they could improve.
Mine is my skin.
I have always had bad skin, or at least have had it for as long as I could remember. In my adolescence, I became painfully aware of my blemishes, and did everything possible to eradicate them. I scrubbed my skin with Comet. I soothed it with watermelon rinds. I masked it with Noxzema, which then burned a layer off of it. I sat over boiling pots of hot water with a towel over my head to “open my pores”. In short, I have been very cruel to my skin, and in retaliation, my skin is now cruel to me.
I have come to accept the little white heads that dot my face, and nonchalantly pop them when they appear. In some strange way, I derive a sense of primal pleasure from hearing a loud “splat!” when I run my nail over an unsuspecting infected sebaceous gland. As vigilant as I am about removing these dastardly imperfections, my skin finds a way to fight back. Once quarterly, on the right side of my cheek It appears. “It” is the Borg of pimples; a venerable amalgamation of all the impurities that a cluster of pores has been accumulating beneath the surface of my epidermis, waiting for the right time to strike! This is the ghastly result – a pimple so monstrous in size that its memory is forever seared in the consciousness of the person gazing upon it. No! Don’t look away! FEEL its power! FEAR its presence!
My pimple is transgendered, and depending on how I’m feeling in the moment, I will assign it a name and a sex. Most recently, it has been dubbed Horace, Pippa, and Constantine.
No one likes my pimple, but they can’t seem to tear their attention away from it. Just two nights ago, I noticed Liya, my one year old, staring quizzically at my face. She reached up her tiny hand and not so stealthily tried to rip Alex from my face. (Alex is a nice gender neutral name.)
“No, no baby! Don’t do that,” I admonished.
The more I tried to move my face away from her aggressive hands, the more assertive she became in her attack. I eventually had to set her down to prevent a sure catastrophe.
It’s difficult for people not to be mystified by Alex. When It was about to make its debut, I was at work last weekend and I felt a throbbing in my cheek and a persistent itch in the same spot. To my horror, I discovered that my pimple was growing by the hour as I was checking customers out. Many of them took pity on me: this smiling, disfigured pariah charged with ringing up their purchases. They signed up for our rewards program without hesitation, and their watery eyes gazing at me with compassion. It was not until I went to the bathroom during my lunch break and discovered that their sympathies were elicited from Alex’s presence.
Other people are repulsed by my pimple. These people include my husband. Just yesterday morning he leaned in to give me a kiss goodbye as he left for work. I had not brushed my teeth yet, so I turned to my right so he could give me a peck on the cheek instead. I heard a barely audible “uh-uh” escape from under his breath as he turned me around to kiss me on the mouth. He made a choice: and that choice was to rather be assaulted by my briny breath than have his lips make possible contact with the gruesome resident on my face.
What hurts most is when people stare at it, and ask me what it is.
Is it a boil?
Does it hurt?
Is that a MOLE?
Can I pop it?
No, yes, no and heck no, I return. Trying to pop Alex is dangerous for all three of us. I am certain that underneath that mix of infectious bacteria and blood is an assault rifle, waiting to blast a hole in anyone attempting to usurp his/her proud position on my face.
What hurts the most is when people run away from me. These people include neighbors and good friends. Last night, I went to hand deliver a box of Girl Scout cookies to *Danielle, a good friend of mine whom I have not seen in days. Our children go to school together, and we usually hang out 3-4 times a week. When I emerged from the shadows of the church parking lot where we were meeting, Danielle broke into a wide smile when she saw me and opened her arms to embrace me. As I moved in closer, the light of a lamp post illuminated Alex’s waxy surface. She recoiled in revulsion, saying hurriedly that she had to leave.
“The boys have school tomorrow,” she smirked nervously.
“Oh! Yes, yes of course. I understand,” I replied.
I watched her scamper away waving at me without turning around to look at me. I felt like a leper. It’s been 8 days since Alex made his/her grand re-appearance, and I have no idea when (s)he’s going to take her leave of my face. My attempts to burn him off (I’ve determined that Its gender is be male this go round – because only a man would stick around this long, unwanted) with toothpaste have so far been futile. But I have hope. I have hope…
What ails you, dear Reader? Maybe you are not disfigured to this degree, but feel free to share your affliction with us. You’re among “friends”! After all, confession is good for the soul – that, and it won’t make me feel so isolated in my pimply despair.