I don't consider myself a vain person, though once I refused to leave the house for a week after I accidentally shaved off an eyebrow (my first thought upon seeing my eyebrow lying in the sink was: Pick up that sucker and put it back on). But now I have a mustache. It has grown in white. Before, when it was just my hair that was white, I looked like a Q-tip. Now I look like a toothbrush with a Q-tip wedged into its bristles. This is what happened:
About a month ago I ran out of my favorite shaving lotion, a kind that promised to be gentle on my sensitive skin. I'd only been using it since, hmmm, 1978, when I was forced to give up my electric razor for a blade one morning when the power went out (see, children, back then electric razors didn't have batteries. You had to PLUG THEM IN and they ran forever, or at least until the power went out, like it did that morning). But I loved the blade so much I made the switch and I've never gone back.
When I noticed Walmart no longer carried my brand of shaving lotion I switched to another brand, a soothing menthol-scented foam (or so I thought). When I tried it that first morning I felt like I'd slathered my face in napalm. Soon, welts appeared near my upper lip. Dull blade, I thought, and broke open a new blade. It reminded me of an old Saturday Night Live skit where a man shaves with a disposable razor that has, like, 47 blades. I think this one did have 47 blades.
Then, a huge blister formed above my lip. This thing looked like a jalapena-flavored jelly bean. At any moment it might erupt, fragging everybody in my vicinity with blister shrapnel. I panicked. I can go to work with my beer belly sagging over my belt, my crazy Doc Brown hair, even that weird mole on my neck that sprouts Chernobyl-style hairs. But I could NOT go to work with a potentially explosive blister on my lip. So I did what any teenager would do in my situation: I covered it with makeup.
The blister did not like that. It burned. It throbbed. It swelled to even more obscene proportions. At any moment I expected an alien to burst forth and go skittering off behind the file cabinets to revisit me when it was a few feet taller.
Thank God that was a Friday. By Monday, I thought, the situation would be back under control.
Monday dawned with my third-trimester blister covered in a downy fuzz of frost-colored whiskers. I had to shave this sucker or I would not be able to walk into the office. I applied a thick layer of shaving lotion and set about scraping it with the razor. Thus, I entered Dante's 47th Level of Hell.
The pain was eye-wateringly exquisite, falling somewhere between Atom Bomb and Cosmic Big Bang. Never, ever, had I experienced pain in its pure form. The blister grew exponentially, reaching all the way to my nose. That day at work, I slurred all my S's, and when I drank a Diet Coke it dribbled down my chin and neck. All the ladies in the office proclaimed their horror and I was suitably fussed over and sympathized with.
I went to my doctor. "Never had a cold sore?" he huffed indifferently. He's a retired Air Force colonel. He was not sympathetic. I think he thought I was trying to get out of work. I can think of a lot more imaginitive ways of getting out of work without inflicting myself with an alien lip-burster.
He prescribed antibiotics (I guess all my poking and prodding had infected the thing) and antivirals. When it was all said and done I'd spent $60 - on a blister. And I thought when the cats died I was out of the pet business.
I refused to go near the thing with a razor and now, two weeks later, I have a ridiculous-looking mustache. It covers the blister, which is good, but it's also a problem: I can't see the blister to know if I should shave it. But I do know this: I hate the mustache. It itches. It catches food. I suspect colonies of unknown organisms are thriving within.
So this weekend I will take out my razor and my new can of old shaving lotion (I found it at Kmart - God bless their dated inventory) and I will make another attempt at ridding myself of these facial blemishes. If you hear a strange cry warbling from the vicinity of Florida, you'll know I failed.
It's not vanity.
But please, don't look at my face.