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James R. Stout

The Pimple Fairy

            It was the fall of 1974 and I was 19-years-old at the time. It was during that perplexing time in life when I was not quite a man and not a boy either. Late one night about 1 o’clock in the morning I had just gone to bed. I wasn’t asleep yet, but all was quiet in the house and the lights were out. My bedroom was in the front of the house and the double windows were easy access from the front porch. There I was about to nod off when I heard a tapping at my window. Well, it was pretty unsettling to say the least. Was it a friend or foe? The only thing I was certain of was that it wasn’t a beautiful girl wanting me to come outside for some passionate necking. No, I was in-between girlfriends at the time. A horrible place to be when you’re nineteen.

            I drew back the curtain and peeked outside. I nearly screamed because there was a face staring right back at me. After a brief few seconds of being startled I realized it was my old pal Darwin Trevena. He was whispering and motioning for me to come outside. Only I couldn’t do that right that moment. I wasn’t properly presentable to even an old pal like Darwin. I whispered back that I would be outside in a couple of minutes. I needed time to dawn my alter ego. You know, the one that I showed to the world?

            Let me back up a minute though. Did I mention that I was only nineteen? Yes, I think I did. Now, I never had a bad problem with acne. Nobody ever called me pizza face. But that doesn’t mean that a visit from The Pimple Fairy was unusual. When I think back on it, I realize that those visits were traumatic. I never got a pimple on my neck that could be easily covered up with a shirt collar. Nope, when I got a pimple it was usually on my nose, beside my nose, above my lip, or front and center on my chin. I used to categorize pimples like hurricanes are categorized. A P1 was just a nuisance that could be hidden well with a little Clearasil. But a P5 was like a neon sign flashing “LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THIS ZIT!” Great care and a lot of time with Clearasil and perhaps a bit of stolen make-up from my mother’s stash would render a P5 into a mere clown like zit. In other words, it didn’t fool anyone. It simply looked like it was. One great big honking pimple that the poor idiot tried to cover up with Clearasil and make-up.

            So, after too many visits from the Pimple Fairy, I started to experiment with preventative maintenance. It took a while to achieve some success and never let it be said that said maintenance was 100% effective. More like in the 25% range. But I had to try. Along about the time I was nineteen I had devised a nightly routine that I was sure would keep the Pimple Fairy at bay. Before going to bed I washed my face thoroughly with a bar of Clearasil soap. (I kept them in business for about 5 years). I then used several Stridex pads to further clean my face. In my experimentation with preventative maintenance I noticed that I had a tendency to develop an oily face throughout the day. There were times I think I could have kept the engine in my car well oiled had I figured a method to collect the oil from my face. I might mention that as I have aged, I have the opposite problem now. Dry skin is the order of the day. Anyway, I figured that I needed to do something to dry out my face overnight. Perhaps that would do the trick. How did I achieve this drying out? Remember Clearasil? Yes, I would smear gobs of that stuff all over my face after the thorough cleaning. Thinking back on it now it was probably rather like Jim Carrey’s “Mask” only it was beige instead of green.

            So, when Darwin tapped on my window, I was wearing my mask. On top of that I was also wearing cut-off shorts that had holes in them in places that would have likely gotten me arrested had I worn them out in public. I had to quickly put on some presentable pants and a shirt and go into the bathroom and as fast as possible remove my mask of Clearasil. Finally, after what seemed an hour, but was likely only about 5 minutes, I went to the front door and stepped outside to see what it was dear old Darwin wanted. Well, the battery had died on his car and he needed a jump. He had walked a couple of blocks to my house from where his vehicle was stalled in a parking lot. I drove him back over to his car, gave him a jump from the battery in my ’68 Sport Fury, and made sure that he was on his way. Then I drove back home and repeated the preventative maintenance on my face. Just as I was about to nod off again, I had one of those involuntary startling jumps. You know, the kind that if anyone saw you do it, they would laugh because you look like a spastic monkey? I guess I was worried Darwin would come knocking again!

            When we’re that age little things seem like they are so much more serious than they really are. I guess to a nineteen-year-old kid a visit from the Pimple Fairy can be pretty traumatic. I’m not exactly sure when I stopped worrying about pimples. I guess it was sometime in my early 20’s. I know that I had a bad one develop the weekend I got married nearly two years later. Thankfully, it didn’t show-up in time for the wedding on Friday night. But by Sunday morning I could barely see out of my right eye due to a huge bad boy between my nose and my right eye. My bride got an immediate dose of “for worse” from our vows. I only had two days off for the wedding and had to go back to work on Tuesday. The P5 was still in its full regalia when I showed up at work. The first question my boss asked was, “Geez, you didn’t have that thing on your wedding night, did you?” I never much liked that guy.

            I mention all of this to point out that as bad as something may seem to us at the time, it will pass. It will likely one day be something that you look back on and laugh about. As embarrassing as a great old big honking pimple may be to us when we’re teenagers, you can count on something far more embarrassing to come your way later. Just ask the aging actress who is now the spokesperson for adult diapers.

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