Saturday, March 30, 2013

Me and my second head

I grew up in NJ, land of full-service gas stations. (This will be relevant in a moment.) Only two states in the entire U.S. offer full-service by law: NJ and Oregon. Never having pumped my own gas before, I pulled into a station one sunny afternoon, rolled the window down and announced to the attendant that I wanted to fill my tank. This is important because note that I had to actually speak to someone. Face to face. In order to get gas, the most mundane of tasks.

I flung my arm out the window to offer my credit card.

Only he wasn't interested.

Instead he stared at me, his face a giant question mark, fingers absentmindedly raking over the tall white turban resting on his head. He gazed at me as if I were a creature from outer space. A long awkward moment passed before I turned to look behind me. Was it a language barrier? A UFO landing? A cat giving birth to a zebra? A UFO giving birth to a cat?

No one was behind me.

There wasn't a single living object that could have so captivated his attention.

He stood there still staring. I asked again, this time with less certainty due to the weirdness that was developing, "fill 'er up please?"

Finally he pointed.

At my face.

Grinning slowly, he asked, unabashed, "What's THAT??"

He had an accent but I understood him perfectly.

I slowly followed his fingertip to the end of my nose, where there stood a giant red zit. A pustule pulsating happily in its glory at the defeat of the rest of my face, it knew it had won. Like the bulbous second head of a encephalic siamese twin, it mindlessly competed for visual attention through the sheer enormity of its very presence. I didn't have a chance.

A pimple. He didn't understand what was on my face because it was so large and grotesque that it was like a physical deformity. With childlike innocence he simply could not help himself from blurting out the unspeakable. Questions must sometimes be asked.

I narrowed my eyes. Brazen candor shall be met with its equal.

"It's a ZIT." I flatly replied.

He stood, shocked. That an ordinary red bump could so hijack one's face that it could become the sole point of focus was inconceivable. He took one last gaping stare before ripping his eyes away to focus on the more earthly task at hand: filling my tank.

We spent the next several minutes in awkward silence as I cursed the SLOW pump before paying and driving off in disgrace.

And then I made a slight change in plans that involved a tub of benzoyl peroxide, a car battery, needlenose pliers, a set of golf clubs and some Advil.

A moment of silence, please, in remembrance of its untimely death. But it was either it or me, and I got the brain.

(I still think THIS one was worse.)

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