Saturday, January 22, 2005

Oxy Moron

[Ed's note: I'm gonna level with you, kids. This N.O.C.W.I.T. entry is gonna be gross. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip it. It discusses dealing with acne in a frank, some would say profane, manner. There it is, you've been warned.]

When I was in junior high, I developed really really bad acne. From about 7th grade until about my senior year of high school, my face was filled with red blotches and shiny pimples. I know everyone gets it, but I'll bet I got it worse. True story: when I was in 8th grade, a kindergartener asked me if I had chicken pox. I got this acne medication from my doctor that dried up my skin and made it flake off. I would routinely have to shake dead skin out of the folds of my text books in junior high.

Now it's not as if I was a social dynamo to begin with. It wasn't like I had a whole lot else going for me either, so I can't blame it all on the acne. I didn't have a personality, wasn't smart, was scrawny (I say it like it's a bad thing), had a huge nose for my face, and unmanageably thick and straw-like hair. And this was after I got the braces off.

[Side note: It seems like I've never been able to get it all right at the same time. I was a weird kid, then I got normal. Then I got braces. I got the braces off, but then I became a bit of a fat kid. Then I dropped the weight and the acne kicked in. Then the acne goes away and I gain like 50 pounds in college. Then I get glasses. Then I drop some of the weight and get comfortable with my body type, and I start getting thinning hair. It's like I've always been half-dork -- some might say more than half.

There was one, shining one-year period when I was a senior in high school that was like the eye of the nerd hurricane: the acne was going away, I was 180 lbs, no glasses (even though I probably needed them). If I had only had a personality, I would have been a real catch back then. Ah well...]

But when it came to the one thing that set me apart from my peers at that age, it was the acne. I was never ostracized by my classmates or anything like that, since many of them had it too. Actually, only my bitch sisters and asshole brother used to tease me about it. But I took it, knowing full well that about the time mine started clearing up, those idiots would get it. And they did.

Acne was my mortal enemy for a long time. It was cruel, tormenting condition of the skin caused by dirt and oil. When Noxema and Clearasil and Oxy 10 and all the other acne-cleansing products didn't work, I would sometimes have to practice "vigil-acne" justice. (Haha! Man I'm clever!) I would pop 'em. I would pop the zit out of 'em.

Some people enjoy popping plastic bubbles, I enjoyed popping zits. It wasn't just the perverse pleasure of squeezing all that disgusting stuff out of its fleshy foxhole, or watching the volcano-like eruptions signifying the end of a blemish. It was sweet revenge -- hell, it was the only possible revenge -- against this dermatologist-mocking syndrome that had kept me at a disadvantage all those years. After all, my looks are my livelihood!

There were two particular instances where my Charles-Bronson-in-Death-Wish-like hatred of all things oily and putrescent would produce a most-satisfying result. I would like to tell you about both of them right now. If you are squeamish, you may want to skip to my I Hate Jared from the Subway Commericals entry or something.

The first incident took place in my health class at Fairport High School in 1994. Back then I was a T-Shirt 'N' Jeans guy, unlike the nattily dressed fashion plate I am today. I wore a black Vancouver Canucks baseball cap and a black t-shirt that day. There had been an immense, Mount St.Helens-size pimple right at the base of my skull. I knew what it was. There was a large bump there, but it had a putty-like fluidity about it. It was enormous. It actually gave me a headache, this monstrosity. I had been fanagling with it for a few weeks, and I was wondering when it was gonna pop. They always pop, but some take longer than others.

This day, I thankfully got to health class early, before most of the other people did. I set in the second-to-last seat in my row, and the guy who sat behind me (I think his name was Mike, but I wouldn't swear to it) hadn't shown up yet. My hat was on, but right under the snaps was this bump, making the hat uncomfortable to wear because they were rubbing against one another. I placed my two middle fingers on either side of the bump, first massaging it, then tapping it slightly. I wasn't sure if it was ready yet. I decided to test it out. With my two middle fingers flanking the mountainous lump, I pressed in, against my skull, as if I were fastening two snap-on buttons. To my great surprise, my head exploded from the back, shooting a rocket of pus behind me. It looked like the Zapruder film. I never did hear it land. Thank the lord that my classmate Mike had not been sitting behind me, because explaining that one would have been difficult. He has no idea how close he was.

The relief I felt is indescribable. It was like opening a release valve. You could practially hear the "sssssss." One side effect: there was (I'm not kidding) a small hole in the back of my head after that. In fact, when I'm shaved bald you can still see the scar. A small amount of blood actually flowed out of my head and into my hair. Luckily, I just turned the Canucks cap backward, with the brim covering up the blood, and washed it off after class. Very smart on my part. My head is not just a breeding ground for acne, folks.

The second incident took place at the Art Museum in Philadelphia in 2000. There was a very promiment pimple I had had for probably 8 or 9 years on my forehead. It sat dead-center, about an inch and a half directly above my nose, and it was the one blemish on my otherwise relatively smooth (and growing) forehead. This zit had been my albatross for years. This thing was so deep that no amount of cleaning or buffing or attempted-popping could get it out.

In early 2000, I had had enough. One day, when I was alone, I took the business end of a corkscrew (it was the sharpest object I could find at the time), went to a mirror, and dug into this thing. It was as if I were trying to excavate a corpse from a grave. Not that I've ever tried to do that. I was unable to fully remove the blemish, but I must have jostled something.

I was visiting my friend Tony in Philadelphia. We went to the art museum and did the "Rocky" thing at the top of the stairs and it was all very amusing to us. Inside the museum, my head began itching or something. I touched the pimple that I had been trying to dispose over for the better part of a decade. I used the same technique I had used before -- the pressing toward the skull -- except this time it was with my index fingers. It wouldn't budge. I tried again; nothing. One more time, with all the force I could muster, and with an inward "wedge" motion, using my fingernails, I gave it one last try. And to my delight, at long last, it finally popped. No longer would I have to deal with this distracting piece of flesh marring my otherwise perfect face. Okay, yes, it bled, and yes there is a small scar there, but it's not half as distracting as it once was.

So there it is. Kids out there with acne, fear not. You'll get the best of it eventually. These pimples may arrogantly sit on your face now, but they don't know that one day, they will meet an untimely demise.


JT said...

You know what I hear is good for acne?'s not just a stain-coverer.

Toastie said...

I'm not one hundred percent sure, but that could be one of the more disgusting stories that I have heard. The head acne tale was the one that sent me over the edge with your chilling descriptions and high fa'lootin' ways! I would get those skull monsters from my hockey helmet back in high school and college when I had practice daily and they are not comfortable. Through all of your ordeals Billy, you sure came out one hell of a beautiful man, with a terrific ass!!! Toast out, and WHAMMY!!

Ban-dingo said...


Your heroic stick-to-itiveness in the face of insurmountable odds, reminds me of the story of another youngster who who experienced self-inflicted scarring in order to overcome his own dire situation.

Of course, I am talking about Timmy O'Toole, the plucky Manitoba boy who made headlines in 1995 when, as a five year-old rapscallion, he wandered into the vast Northwoods alone and got snagged in a bear trap. He chewed off his own leg to escape and then survived on nuts and berries as he dragged himself toward home. he was covered in puss and gangreneous when mounties found him. But to a man they were all impressed with how high his spirits were.

Yes, Billy, in a lot of ways your tales of puss and blood and scarring remind me a lot of young Timmy. Only yours are a lot more heroic.

Carry on my wayward son. There will be peace when you are done.



Bill - I would have to say those are some of the most disgusting stories I've heard in a while. I have this thing w/ popping zits - I can't stand it. I realize that it has to be done, because who wants some whitehead smack dab on your forehead. It kind of reminds of this show I saw on discovery channel. There is this frog that actually gives birth out it's back. The female lays the eggs, the male comes and fertilizes them (that's another blog all in itself) and then the eggs dig their way into the female frogs back. As they mature and are ready to emerge - they actually pop like zits. I literally almost threw up. After all the babies were born she had these disgusting open craters in her back. I almost threw up my popcorn. Needless to say I made myself watch the entire thing.

Kathie said...

I want a divorce.

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