Saturday, May 15, 2010


A few days ago, I decided to book myself an appointment with my Skin Croaker. (That’s Damon Runyonese for the dermatologist.)

Guys my age tend to spend a lot of time with the Dermo. With us, it’s not so much the pocky zits of adolescence, or even the occasional Taint-Warhead, but the effects of five or six decades of cumulative solar radiation exposure. As much as we all love a nice suntan, the radiation that tans us is also slowly trying to kill us.

When I was a young Snot-Nose, we would visit the Grand-’Rents in south Florida every year... and every year, I would roast myself to a nut-brown turn. Down the road, I may end up paying a stiff price for those childhood suntans, because Mister Skin never forgets an insult.

I know too many people who have been carried off by melanoma... including a colleague in her mid-forties who managed to survive a brain aneurysm only to succumb to malignant melanoma two years later. And so, whenever I see something that looks like it may be problematic, I hie myself down to the skin-doc and have it checked out.

She Who Must Be Obeyed had noticed a spot on my chest several months ago, and we both had been keeping our eyes on it to see whether it was changing or growing in an inauspicious manner. But after a while I decided that I didn’t like the looks of it; it was time to have the Dermo weigh in.

It took only a moment for her to make the diagnosis. “It‘s a barnacle,” she said.

Say what?

“It’s a barnacle. A skin tag. A benign actinic keratosis. People of a certain age start accumulating these things - they’re like barnacles on a boat. When you get enough of ’em, we can zap ’em off, but since it costs the same to zap one as it does to zap a dozen, you might as well wait until you get a few more. And you will get a few more.”

Sweet. I’m growing Gawd-damned barnacles.

It’s no big deal, but SWMBO has already drawn her line in the sand. “If you start growing a bunch of those things, and they start getting big and hanging off your face,” she warned, “they are coming right the fuck off.”

Well, OK, then!

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