The torture chamber of puss

I was cleaning out my drafts folder and came upon this beauty from October 27, 2015 that was never published. For obvious reasons. Poor Bode!


I’ll admit it: I have an affinity for popping pimples. It’s genetic, you know. Every time I go home, if anyone has any semblance of a zit, they’re immediately attacked. Many say you shouldn’t pop them and I don’t…unless they’re big, pussy and have a personal conversation with me, which happens a lot.

I had typical teenage acne but when you’re a zit-obsessed family, you go for the juggler. My mom submitted me to not one but two rounds of Acutane, which cleared out my face (and everything else) forever. I still get the occasional rogue breakout but rarely. Whenever I get a facial, the esthetician always cleans out my  blackheads, except they call it “extraction,” which I suppose is a more professional way to refer to popping zits. But the result is still the same: pure, unadulterated joy.

So, imagine my angst to have an entire playground of puss on my daughter’s face and she won’t let me go anywhere near it. For the most part, I’ve learned to look away except for those rare moments when I’m massaging her hair during church and a pimple literally jumps out at me from her hairline. What am I supposed to do? Attack or ignore it?  Definitely the former, and since we’re in a reverent, public place she can’t react like a banshee and I go back to massaging her hair and all is forgotten.

Last week was picture day at school, the one day of the year when I actually insist the kids look quasi-presentable. Fourth grader Bode came down decked out in a stylin’ outfit I bought from Nordstrom Rack and I almost sent him on his way until I saw it: his first zit. And it wasn’t just any pimple, but the grandmother of whiteheads square in the middle of his chin.

I’ll admit I squealed for joy and dragged him into the bathroom. He was unimpressed. “Bode, normally I wouldn’t care [oh, the lie] but it’s picture day and you can’t have this huge zit on your face. You can either have me pinch it or do it yourself.”

Here’s the thing about Bode: If there was a Richter scale for lack of pain tolerance, he would be a 10,000. It literally took us hours one night to pull a dangling tooth, and the only reason we were insistent was because we were doing a photo shoot the next day for The Broadmoo’s Ranch at Emerald Valley and we couldn’t have him looking like Billy Bob.

Bode wanted nothing to do with the zit popping but tentatively pinched. Nothing. “You have to go a bit harder,” I tenderly coaxed, like the Model Masochist Mother that I am. He tried again. Nada.

The bus was coming so I took over. It didn’t go well. Though I’m well-versed in the art of painless pimpling, this bugger was stubborn and it took me several attempts, by which time Bode was furious as the tears streamed down his face. “I’m so sorry, it’s not usually that difficult,” I consoled him. Even though I knew he was being melodramatic, I felt badly that he felt badly. He blew past me ignoring my attempts at our usual hug and a kiss and stormed to the bus.

I’m bracing  myself for the result of his pictures. Puffy eyes. A red sore on his chin. And a dagger-like glare “my mother made me do it.”

It’s all part of making memories.

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