I was certain I’d contracted the stupid wart during my time spent barefoot on the slippery deck of the middle school swimming pool, where we girls were required, by law, to take ten days of instructional swim.
After weeks of applying Compound W with no visible improvement, I pulled off my sock and showed the offending bump to my father and, a few days later, I found myself sitting in his car. As he drove down the Boulevard, he warned me that the doctor was probably going to have to burn it off. He told me it might hurt.
But I wasn’t worried.
I was tough.
I’d had a mouthful of silver fillings put in without Novacaine.
Besides, that wart was gross.
I wanted it off.
Dr. Stone’s office was dark and cluttered with odd pieces of furniture, weird lamps and gadgets. An olive green corduroy jacket drooped from a hook on the back of his door. After inspecting my foot for less than .3 seconds, the doctor walked across the room to retrieve a silver thermos from a cooler. Uncapping the top, white swirls of smoke escaped as he took an extra long Q-Tip swab and stirred it around in whatever magic solution was in there.
I didn’t flinch as the liquid nitrogen sizzled against the offending wart.
When he was finished, the doctor explained what was going to happen and what I needed to do.
I hardly heard him.
But then my father piped in. “While we’re here, doctor…” he started. “She’s got something in her left ear…”
What is it? I wondered. Is it a tumor? Why hasn’t my father mentioned it?
Dr. Stone flipped on his headlamp and leaned in to get a good look, his face too close to mine. His chair creaked.
“Ooooh!” The doctor pushed back in his rolling chair. “She’s got a big ole blackhead in there.” I swear the man giggled as he jumped up to get his instruments.
I was horrified. The wart was bad enough. I didn’t want another ailment. “Dad!” I whispered, covering my ear with one hand. “How long has it been there?”
“I don’t know.” My father shrugged. “A while.”
The doctor returned with an instrument of torture, which he used to scoop out whatever was inside my ear. This second procedure took forever. Every once in a while, the doctor made happy noises.
I sometimes think back to that day in the dermatologist’s office.
Back then, I thought the worst thing that could happen to a person was getting a wart. Or a blackhead in her ear.
Now I know better.
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