Providence has a certain industrial beauty that gets me every time…

I’m going to tell you something that will aggravate you tremendously.

Then I’ll tell you a story that may cause you to reach through your screen, snuggle me close to your breast and tell me that these things happen to everyone, one day I’ll laugh about it.

First, the dagger throwing comment: I was one of those fortunate people who was blessed with acne-free skin. There has never been a period – high school, pregnancy, stressed out work situations – when I’ve gotten a pimple. It’s really nothing to brag about since I suffer from sub-Saharan level dry skin which comes with its own challenges. The silver lining though is that despite the occasional dry patch, skin blemishes have eluded me almost completely. So there you go, I hope your blades aren’t too sharp.

Now, before you throw them, hear me out on the rest of my story.

I traveled to Providence over the Memorial Day weekend to attend my 15-year reunion at Brown, and a few days beforehand, the spot directly underneath my nose became sore. “Strange, what is this thing?” I asked myself and willed it to heal with a combination of Cosmos-directed prayer and some cleansing turmeric tonic. Sensing a zit that was attached directly to my brain stem, I may have also used a few other techniques including toothpaste, baking soda paste, rubbing alcohol and raw cider vinegar.

Despite my efforts, the Cosmos didn’t hear my prayers, the baking soda was completely ineffective, and I woke up the next day to a spot that had doubled in size, developing a large white head. It seemed to mock me. I could practically see its little arms waving at me, telling me that it was likewise looking forward to seeing everyone at our reunion in a few days.

I searched for YouTube videos that would give me the desperately-needed advice to shorten my new friend’s lifespan. I also started to lurk on group boards where teens with cystic acne commiserated about their plight in life. The most common advice I came across was to do nothing – “don’t pop that sucker” they warned. It will lead to infection and scarring and a host of other tragedies.

So I left it, confident that in 3 days, the whitehead would get reabsorbed into my body and swallowed by a colony of white blood cells.

That evening Rodney came home from work and I put on my Wolf Blitzer hat, relaying the situation, and asking smart, probing questions about where it might have come from and how to best remove it. He agreed that things were looking desperate and told me to pop it.

Damn, now I was second guessing my strategy. Back to YouTube, where Dr. Oz told me that if I MUST pop it, at least use a sterilized pin. He then walked me through a technique too graphic to mention on a food blog. My kids, who were watching the clip over my shoulder, reacted with the kind of horror normally reserved for cicada invasions.

Out came the pin (which, of course, I did behind closed doors).

Long story short, just like the acne boards warned, I woke up on Thursday morning to see something under my nose that looked like a moldy pomegranate seed. It was angry and red with flabby skin surrounding a hard yellow seed. As a test case, I tried covering it with Bacitracin and concealer. Which just looked like a pomegranate seed covered with face paint.

I could only imagine my reunion conversations. “Oh, so wonderful to see you! Wow, you haven’t changed one bit!”

At this point, I was wondering whether I should cancel my reunion plans altogether, or if 24 hours was enough time to arrange for a cosmetic skin graft.

I emailed Rodney in one last plea for mercy.

“Questioning the reunion at this point.”

His response was that it wasn’t that noticeable…”and you have another full 48 hours until Sat morning when daylight is up on that piece.”

Having not seen “that piece” since he’d told me to pop it, I sent him a picture, subject line “You liiike your wiiife” (channel your inner Borat).

He did not.

At this point we both decided that my Friday night eveningwear for Campus Dance should be one of the following:


The obvious choice being Cara Delevingne in that sassy football outfit. I would probably wear that regularly if I looked like her and had a wardrobe full of football apparel.

I decided to go, independent of where my face would take me on Friday morning. And by some miracle (maybe the Cosmos were listening), it healed just enough overnight for me to look like a version of my former self.

And wouldn’t you know that all of that stress and self-pity became pointless when I drank a little too much red wine at dinner and passed around the picture that I’d sent Rodney. “Two days ago!” I hollered to my friends at the other end of our steakhouse banquet table.

Not my finest hour. Or the most mature…About as mature as strapping bottles of Gin & Jack to my shins with medical tape to avoid detection at our reunion event.


But I think that’s what college reunions are for, am I right? To leave the kids at home, let your behavior regress a little, and slosh around the old stomping grounds with good friends?

This place brings back so many fond memories, one of the defining experiences in my life. A few images that I took from my visit back to campus….

The Van Wickle gates

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