Perfect Everywhere Else

by Natalie

It started with an ingrown hair. I’ve already discussed waxing, so hair issues should come as no surprise. This particular hair was in a rather conspicuously placed location. It should be noted at this point in time that I swim year round. Bathing suit, botched hair removal….if you’re not following by this point, give up now. For the rest of you, ingrown hairs, if left untreated, can become quite unsightly. When I realized I was out of my league, I showed it to my mother. When her only suggestion was to go to the dermatologist, I knew things were getting serious.

I have had a relationship with my dermatologist for many years. When I was a child my father had melanoma, which makes me more likely to have skin cancer. Once a year I go in for a skin test. I strip down to my underwear, the very nice female dermatologist does a quick glance, determines that I’ll live another year, and we part ways. For the majority of my life, this has defined my relationship with the dermatologist. Until the ingrown hair. On the big day I showed up at the office in my daisy dukes, ready to go. I was led to a room, told to wait, and left alone.

Then in walked in Nurse Practitioner Tom.

Big. Bearded. Old. Exactly the type of man you do not want removing a delicately placed ingrown hair.

This was not what I envisioned. Where was my lovely female dermatologist? Apparently busy with more pressing dermatological matters. Ingrown hairs, it seems, do not rank too high on the priority list. Which is how I ended up with Tom, and not the real doctor.

And then, after this internal freak out, I got over it. Clearly this was a routine procedure, and nothing he hadn’t seen before. Or maybe it was new territory. Regardless, I was here, he was holding a needle, and in two minutes I could walk out the door, hair free. Which is pretty much exactly what happened.

Until I got the wart. Now I know that warts, like head lice, do not discriminate. And even though I have been humbled by my experience, I would still like to say that I am not really the wart “type.” Not that anyone necessarily is. But I definitely am not. So it was really a bit of a catastrophe to discover that I had one. I’m still sort of in denial that this would happen to me. But it did. At first, I didn’t know what it was, but decided it would go away. Then when it didn’t go away (Sometimes, if you ignore things, they magically disappear. I’ve been practicing this tactic for years, and even though it has never worked, I’m still convinced that one day it will.) I contacted my mother. She suggested I go see the dermatologist.

So there I was again, back at the office, pants on, socks off. And in walked Tom. Apparently our previous encounter had not been as unforgettable as I had hoped, because he most certainly remembered me. I explained that the problem was my foot this time, not my…leg. And so began my relationship with Tom.

Warts, it turns out, are stubborn little buggers. They require freezing once every three weeks. They can last for years. They are expensive. I have spent, without exaggeration, probably close to $300  on this wart. Perhaps more. It would definitely be more if it weren’t for Tom. Because while things had not started out under the most desirable circumstances, I started to see Tom more regularly than my close friends. My little wart freezings became downright social. Tom lives on Staten Island, and has a boat that he likes to sail. He wears crocs, loves his pets, and remembers my outfits. Not at all creepy.

Tom also realizes that wart medicine is expensive. After he prescribed a topical medication that cost $150, we had a little discussion where I told him I wasn’t so happy about that price. When I ran out, he snuck me one from the supply closet, and called it, “The broke college student discount.” All of this would be lovely if when I complained about my wart, Tom didn’t feel the need to tell me, “But everywhere else you’re perfect.”

Thank you, Tom.