Acne woes recall teenage angst

The phone call came in during the early morning hours. “Cashman, it’s me,” said the voice on the other end. “I’ve got to cancel our lunch today.” It was my old friend D.W. Clark, whose name – for the purposes of maintaining his anonymity here – I will change to D.W. Flark.

The phone call came in during the early morning hours. “Cashman, it’s me,” said the voice on the other end. “I’ve got to cancel our lunch today.” It was my old friend D.W. Clark, whose name – for the purposes of maintaining his anonymity here – I will change to D.W. Flark.

“We’ve been planning this lunch get-together for weeks,” I protested. “You can’t drop out now.”

“Sorry, man,” he replied. “A thing has come up.”

“What do you mean, a thing?” I said.

He was quiet for a moment, and then muttered, “It’s something big. That’s all I can say.” Then he hung up.

It all didn’t add up, so I got in my car and drove directly to his house. I knocked on the front door and a woman answered the door. It was D.W.’s wife.

“Hi there, Mrs. Flark,” I said. She stared at me and then replied, “Flark? Where’d you come up with that?”

I ignored her question for the purposes of maintaining her anonymity and said, “What’s up with D.W.? He canceled our lunch appointment.”

She shrugged. “You can ask him yourself,” she said as she waved me into the house.

When I found him, it was immediately evident what “thing” had come up. My mouth agape, I stared at a behemoth sitting front and center, directly between D.W.’s eyes. It was the mother of all zits. No, not merely the mother. It was the entire extended family of all zits – a pimple so gigantic that I couldn’t believe D.W. could still hold his neck erect.

It wasn’t a headlight, it was a searchlight. If it had stood out any taller, D.W. might have passed for a unicorn.

“I don’t mean to make a zit into a molehill, “ I stammered. “But you look like a two-headed man.”

“Tell me about it,” he said. “Can you believe this monster? It’s Godzitta!” Then, as if I might have missed it, he pointed to it.

I tried to sound optimistic. “If you put some makeup on it,” I offered, “it’ll hardly be noticeable.”

“Makeup?” he said hopefully.

“Yeah, “I said. “I could pick you up a couple of gallons at Costco.”

He winced, but there was no denying the fact that we were in the presence of a doozy. I have seen prize-winning tomatoes smaller than that thing, although few of them as red.

Pimples and acne, of course, have long been the great scourge of growing up for lots of kids – especially cruel at a time in their lives when they’re most insecure. Luckily, by the time most of us become adults, pimples are usually no longer an everyday malady, but just an occasional, unwelcome surprise. Sort of like a drop-in visit from a neighbor with a new Amway business.

Still, when an unexpected blotch comes along in adulthood, it brings back all the old, horrible feelings that D.W. was having that day.

“I think I’ll just go into hiding for a while,” he said. “This thing ought to clear up in a year or two.”

I tried to cheer him up. “Maybe you and your new companion can drive in the carpool lanes,” I said. It didn’t seem to help.

D.W. said he first noticed “Elephant Man Jr.” developing the night before, changing moment by moment, like the guy in the movie, “The Fly.” But at least that guy was lucky enough to skip the pupa stage.

D.W. remembered attending a movie and complaining to his wife that he couldn’t see the screen well because the person in front of him had such a large head. There was, of course, no such person sitting in front of him.

That night, D.W. slept fitfully. He had a dream about a twin he never knew existed.

“When I woke up in the morning and made my horrifying discovery,” he said, “it reminded me of the horse head scene in ‘The Godfather.’”

“Yeah,” I said. “Except the horse didn’t have a zit.”

Pat Cashman is a writer, actor and public speaker. He can be reached at

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