One of the most tortuous events of adolescence is the explosion of pimples on one’s facial landscape. Unbeknownst to most, these bulbous, bloated, bulging beacons of embarrassment have an intelligence of their own and connive to materialize at the worst possible moment — and in the most awful location. Therefore, it is guaranteed that the morning of the formal prom, one will be greeted in the mirror by a gargantuan red, inflamed, swollen one-inch zit on the tip of your nose. Take it to the bank.
Most people (yes, teens are people) are too polite to say anything when you appear to all the world like a caricature of W.C. Fields, any sinus commercial, and Bozo the Clown. Your day is spent inventing reasons why you cannot move your hand from the front of your face because even though you’ve tried to conceal the damage with two pounds of blemish makeup (causing your skin to develop the oh-so-attractive, tomb-like cast of a mannequin), Captain Blackhead unflinchingly stands out front taunting, “Don’t look him in the eyes; instead gawk intently at his red, puffy, swelling.”
Ah, such special memories…
Acne might be a thing of my past, but the feelings of embarrassment are identical to when I feel bloated from excess consumption. My stomach becomes a radio station, broadcasting on all channels:
“This is a test of the emergency mortification system; for the next 60 minutes, please don’t look anywhere else. Glare unblinkingly at his immense, distended, belly while pointing in a mocking fashion. Should this have been a real emergency, you would have been instructed to add humiliating comments. This is only a test.”
To compensate, I suck in my abdomen, causing the tonal range of my voice to increase one octave while adding a slightly breathy quality to my speech. (I rationalize this, believing others find it a sexy addition to my speech pattern.)
Of course, there are problems with this approach, most notably would be sitting or bending; as one can never be sure of the tensile strength of button thread under strain. I would feel terrible should the round fastener explode forth from my midline, fly across the room, and put out somebody’s eye. I wager the medical report would make history: “Blindness induced by excessive chocolate intake from out-of-control dieter in nearby restaurant booth.”
Oh sure, I try using denial. When asked my pants size, I reply proudly (while loosening my belt), “32 W-L-D.” Women have descriptors like “petite” or “junior;” why can’t men?
“W-L-D? What’s that?”
“While lying down.” (Unfortunately, it’s still a 34 when I stand up.)