I used to have terrible skin. Terrible enough to kill my teenage self-esteem. Terrible enough to warrant trips to the dermatologist. I tried all of the basic treatments, everything they offered over the counter and maybe half the things made available to doctors. I watched my diet and washed my face regularly. I used hypoallergenic products, and I was moderate with the make-up and the cover-up creams.
Nothing worked. I got everything from blackheads to whiteheads, from big red painful zits to pus-filled little pimples. I hated myself and thought I was ugly to the core.
My mother assured me that it was a phase and that I’d outgrow it. She’d had a few while growing up, and my father had gotten more than a few. She warned me about picking at them and said that if I did so I could end up with a cratered face like my father. God forbid. I made absolute sure not to pick at my acne.
It was good advice, but she should have broadened her audience. On one of my trips to the dermatologist, I made a complaint about a blackhead that had been bothering me for weeks. It was smack dab in the middle of my left cheek, and in my hypercritical eyes it was huge. HUGE. A glaring beacon of ugly blackheadedness that ever was seen. My gentle picking at it and careful squeezing of it had not affected it at all. It still gaped like the greasy black hole that it was, and I was getting desperate.
“Please,” I implored the dermatologist. “Is there anything you can do?”
He looked me over for a moment or two, and I thought perhaps he was mentally going over his inventory, his medical artillery against teen acne. I thought for sure he had a snake oil cure-all that would make the blackhead disappear on the spot.
Boy, was I ever wrong.
He called to his assistant to get some kind of tool. I think it was some kind of tiny spoon with a long handle. He may have even had two of them, I don’t know.
Then he leaned toward me, his face looming over my face, and before I knew it he was pressing on my cheek with those metal things, squeezing and squeezing, and God damn it, hurting the hell out of me.
My thoughts were rather predictable:
Aaaauuuurrrrgggghhhh! What the…?! My mom warns me not to pick at my face, and what does this guy think he’s doing to me?
He was picking at my face, that’s what. He was picking at my face and hurting me. Suddenly, it felt as though he’d slipped, and the pain actually got worse.
“There!” he said proudly. “I got it.”
My entire left cheek was throbbing, and I was bleeding a little. The greasy blackness was gone, but I had no idea what was left. The little cratered scar didn’t show up until later, slightly bigger than the blackhead ever was, and in the shape of an upside down Canadian maple leaf.
To this day, I still have it. It’s the only acne scar I have.
And if I ever see that dunderheaded dermatologist again, I’ll do what I wish I’d done back then and punch him right between the eyes.Share this post: