I woke up with a new one this morning. I feel like I’m 16 again even though when I was actually 16, I didn’t have them. Today I woke up with one on my left eyelid. Yesterday I had a new one on my chin, the day before that, in the right corner where both lips meet. I’m talking about pimples, people, ugly, unwelcome pimples.
I’m not sure how people deal pimples or other skin problems because I certainly cannot. I have had warts before. I remember when I had my first one. It was a small guy; it was on the bottom of my right, ring toe. I was a kid, I don’t remember my exact age. But I do remember how I finally got rid of it. I scraped my foot repeatedly on the rough pavement along the edge of Dana’s swimming pool. It’s nice having friends with pools, although that’s probably how I got the thing in the first place. I had a few others grow over the years as well and I have had them all cut out or frozen, some just went away on their own. They were always on my feet. I hate skin things.
When I was 12, I had the mother of all warts take root on my foot, it grew smack dab in the middle of my right heel. It was huge and horribly ugly and became bigger and more powerful as the years went on. It kept me from getting countless pedicures, foot rubs, and for the longest time, when intimate with Tobyjoe, I would keep my socks on. (Now, that’s hot. If you haven’t felt turned on thus far by this post, I am certain you feel that way now.)
As the years went idly by, I grew more and more annoyed with the thing. I had it cut out at least three times by a professional (although, looking back, I’m not sure what the difference between our techniques was.) Eventually, I gave up on the professional and decided to take matters of the feet into my own hands. I began to operate on it myself. This went on for years. I would pull out whatever sharp object I could find and give myself surgery by boring into layers and layers of skin (the heel can be quite calloused). This procedure always ended the same way, with my foot covered in blood, another ruined bent metal thing, and a head full of frustration. The wart always won but I must have tried to dig it out at least 500 times over the years. Easily.
When I was 6, I had Impetigo. My face broke out with big open sores, my arms as well. It was disgusting. We were in Tennessee at the time at the 1980 World’s Fair. I wore as much medical ointment on my face as possible because when the sores dried out, the pain was unbearable. And if they dried out I would try and keep them moist using my own saliva.
I am shocked my family, or some southern stranger, didn’t try and sell me to some passing circus. I was disgusting and highly contagious. I was quarantined from my brothers.
The bout with Impetigo left a lasting scar on me mentally. I still have reoccurring nightmares about it. I wake up sweating, exiting a dream where I had been covered in some hideously ugly, skin disorder. I have dreamt that the skin from an entire fingertip has somehow detached itself from the knuckle and I spend the entire dream trying to hide it, by shoving it back on. I have had long, snake like, skin creatures come out of the bottoms of my feet and I keep pulling on them hoping they’ll eventually end and when they keep getting longer and growing wider their exit holes become bigger and bigger. I get goose bumps when I think about these dreams. (Of course it’s a reaction of the skin.) These nightmares, the ones about my skin, are more vivid than actual memories.
I know the history of my skin. Which is how I know that it wasn’t me who threw the massive wart behind the couch when he was a kid. The wart had come off. I remember that because it was really gross. It had turned dark first, like a dead tooth. And it eventually fell off. I remember the days leading up to said liberation. It was mortifying for me. (I’m getting goose bumps just writing this down.) But if it had actually been my own, well, I’d remember something like that.
I admitted to the foreign booger that I simply could not find on the bathroom wall. I looked for it before finally convincing myself that what I had actually felt fly out of my nostril wasn’t a booger at all, but a big burst of air. There simply was no booger. But I was wrong. It came back to haunt me weeks later at the dinner table.
“Kids, I can handle vomit when you’re sick, poop even. I can handle hair in the bathtub, unflushed toilets here and there, and sweaty soccer gear. But what I can’t handle is scraping dried boogers off the bathroom wall. Use a tissue.”
All three of us looked down at our empty plates (my mother would never say such a thing with food still on the plate). But I had used a tissue, I thought. The tissue just wasn’t big enough. Not one of us said a word at the time. I fessed up later to the crime.
Just like that rebellious bathroom booger, I remember weird skin things. I’m a little terrified of what our bodies are capable of to be honest with you. I blame this, in part, because of the impetigo I had at the 1980 World’s Fair. My face may have been covered in sores, but I was wart-free back then. I remember that. (Thankfully, I am wart free now for the first time since I was 12.) I also know that it wasn’t my wart that was thrown behind the couch that day. I know this but my family doesn’t seem to agree with me.
So, if I drop dead tomorrow from some flesh eating bacteria, Ebola, or a massive exploding eyelid pimple, please make sure that my brother knows that I know that it was his wart that was thrown behind that couch not mine. I want to put to rest what might be the biggest Howely family mystery of all time.