What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cyrano de Bergerac

One pristine day last week, I rolled out of bed in my usual cumbersome fashion and attended to my morning routine; shower, shave and shine. Except that the last part, shine, had special meaning. As I looked over my ruggedly handsome visage in the bathroom mirror, I noticed a deformity, a slight coloration accompanied by a bulge on the front of my nose between my eyes. The protuberance was pregnant with a substance that resembled puss and every now and then it oozed some of its contents down my face. The body of the papule was blood red and on its tip were three individual whiteheads, all distinguishable from ten feet away.

Now, understand that acne has never been a huge problem for me. Sure, I have the occasional outbreak, but modern medicine and proper hygiene have kept the situation from getting out of hand. I’m not quite ready to audition as a Neutrogena model, but my face is usually pretty clear.
The shiner I was suffering from that day was a marked anomaly, one that would plague me for the next week.

If you have ever had an abnormal characteristic, especially with the nose, you’ll understand my frustration. The hands can be hidden in the pockets, the feet covered by socks, even the scalp can be obscured by hair. But the nose? What is there to protect this protruding organ from the penetrating eyes of others?

I sat in the bathroom, trying to gauge the extent of the aesthetic damage. I turned to look at my bump, which I’d named Jerry, in profile. The mirror confirmed my greatest fear as Jerry’s presence significantly altered the contour of my nose. My normally noble feature now sported an unnatural rise -- like the apex of a tent -- and all the beauty of my face seemed sucked, as if in a vortex or black hole, to Jerry. My countenance was one contorted battle centered on that one conspicuous mark.

Thinking of my social welfare, I tried to find some method of camouflage, some way of hiding the mark from others. How could I disguise my little Jerry without drawing further attention to its presence? Maybe a ski cap pulled low over my brow or a sweat band, positioned like a blindfold. Perhaps I could find a pair of glasses whose bridge would ensconce my embarrassment away from public view.

After discussing the matter over with my fashion consultants (my older brother and, yes, my mother), I decided to go to school with Jerry out in the open, unadorned and unhidden.

My brother’s parting words were encouraging: “Just try not to be ashamed of it.”

That was a week ago. The last seven days have been filled with agonizingly long stares, unstated questions, overly polite comments, small talk gone bad and curious comments from cute little kids who have yet to experience the joys of adolescent pustules. Teachers have stared, my own mother has reminded me incessantly not to “pick at ‘it,’” (“it” has a name, you know!), my friends have offered regular consolation and encouraging hugs and my enemies have laughed. Boy have they laughed.

One of my fellow students, a gentleman we’ll just call John Costa, even left me an Accutane (Isotretinoin) pill (complete with the anti-pregnancy warnings) as a joke. Ha-ha.

My love life, already a wreck, is in tatters. My male friends are frightened to spend time with me in case Jerry is contagious. The good folks in the men’s locker room, many of them well endowed with Jerry-esque protrusions, are downright cruel. Even the family dog barks funny when I approach our house.

Can dogs even get acne?

It’s as if my entire life, all I stand for, know, believe and desire, is condensed into one open comedone. I know I go through life nose first, but there is more to me than my nasal structure. Little Jerry doesn’t know the damage he’s caused, but all of you could be a lot more considerate.

My shiner will eventually expire and my nose will return to its former glory. And when it does, boy, I will be ready with some fast lines for anyone else who sports an embarrassing mark.

1 comment:

Mr. G Shakeman said...

Rest assured, Cyrano, that if I had noticed your new-found companion ... Jerry, I would have treated him with the same love and acceptance as any other member of the de Bergerac family. FYI: a nose-sock is a fashionable alternative when cosmetics aren't an option.