Life Doesn't Fit in a File Folder Memoir

Warts and Unwelcome Surprises

My feet, without warts these days.
My feet, without warts these days.

I was certain I’d contracted the stupid wart during my time spent barefoot on the slippery deck of the middle school swimming pool, where we girls were required, by law, to take ten days of instructional swim.

After weeks of applying Compound W with no visible improvement, I pulled off my sock and showed the offending bump to my father and, a few days later, I found myself sitting in his car. As he drove down the Boulevard, he warned me that the doctor was probably going to have to burn it off. He told me it might hurt.

But I wasn’t worried.

I was tough.

I’d had a mouthful of silver fillings put in without Novacaine.

Besides, that wart was gross.

I wanted it off.

Dr. Stone’s office was dark and cluttered with odd pieces of furniture, weird lamps and gadgets. An olive green corduroy jacket drooped from a hook on the back of his door. After inspecting my foot for less than .3 seconds, the doctor walked across the room to retrieve a silver thermos from a cooler. Uncapping the top, white swirls of smoke escaped as he took an extra long Q-Tip swab and stirred it around in whatever magic solution was in there.

I didn’t flinch as the liquid nitrogen sizzled against the offending wart.

When he was finished, the doctor explained what was going to happen and what I needed to do.

I hardly heard him.

But then my father piped in. “While we’re here, doctor…” he started. “She’s got something in her left ear…”

What is it? I wondered. Is it a tumor? Why hasn’t my father mentioned it?

Dr. Stone flipped on his headlamp and leaned in to get a good look, his face too close to mine. His chair creaked.

“Ooooh!” The doctor pushed back in his rolling chair. “She’s got a big ole blackhead in there.” I swear the man giggled as he jumped up to get his instruments.

I was horrified. The wart was bad enough. I didn’t want another ailment. “Dad!” I whispered, covering my ear with one hand. “How long has it been there?”

“I don’t know.” My father shrugged. “A while.”

The doctor returned with an instrument of torture, which he used to scoop out whatever was inside my ear. This second procedure took forever. Every once in a while, the doctor made happy noises.

I sometimes think back to that day in the dermatologist’s office.

Back then, I thought the worst thing that could happen to a person was getting a wart. Or a blackhead in her ear.

Now I know better.

tweet me @rasjacobson

26 thoughts on “Warts and Unwelcome Surprises

  1. AAUGH! EVERY single time one of us kids had swimming at school, we got at least one plantar’s wart. I think my mom must have just made the appointment for the doctor as soon as she saw “Pool” on the class schedule. My son even got one from our hospital stay. For pete’s sake – as if we didn’t have enough going on at that moment, he comes home with a plantar’s wart.

    Isn’t it great, though, that we had access to a dermatologist for teen-aged skin issues? Even if you got stuck with the mad giggler!

  2. The pain of growing up was so sharp at the time; looking back, it now seems just sweetly achy. Blackheads, breakups, and social blunders ruled my adolescence and sent me weeping to my room. As my son enters this period of teenager hood, I feel his sharp pain, but it is softened with nostalgia.

    1. Yes, Renee. I suspect there’s a deeper message hidden beneath the humor in this story. Pinging good vibes your way.

      Tiny favor? Ping some back at me. I, too, use humor to shield myself from what seems to be an insurmountable soul-wrenching problem.


  3. I remember having a wart on the back of my heel when I was young. The doctor CUT it out. It was TERRIBLE!!! The thing bled and bled and hurt like the devil when I wore shoes. I’ll never forget it.

  4. But the warts and blackheads of youth prepare us for the challenges of adulthood. So I give them their proper homage. Love and hugs to you. May you weather every storm with such courage as you did that stupid wart.

  5. This has been a rough year for me. The roughest of my life so far. The worst part was, at times, feeling as if I were completely alone.

    Recently, I received concrete evidence that this is not the case. I do, in fact, have people (only a few, but for these purposes, ‘few’ is the right number) who really do and will love me no matter what.

    I know I can get through anything now.
    And you, my dear, are not alone.

  6. We always look back on “the worst” times and realize that they are nothing compared to the pain we are going through now. The good news is that you will also get through this mess, and I’m sure that this will be the worst. Only happy times from here on out, right? I am thinking good healing thoughts for you and wishing you strength and calmness over this rough time. You have many friends and people who support you. I am one of those people. Let me know if you need someone to lean on. I am very sturdy. Love you!

  7. I remember a planter wart on the instep of my foot (can’t remember whether it was my left or right). We kept trying to get rid of it and finally, it was burned off similar to what you experienced. Yes, if that was the worst thing that could ever happen, my life would be different today.

  8. I’m always terrified that a spider will crawl in my ear whilst I slept and lay eggs. I’m sure there’s a name for that phobia… What I’m trying to say here is that it could have been worse. It could have been a nest of spiders…

    This is probably why I don’t have many friends…



  9. Ah, the innocent naiveté of youth. As difficult as life might be today, I wouldn’t go back. I’m tougher, stronger with a broader vision of the world. Moments like the one you described…they just help slowly prepare us for those bigger moments. It’s amazing how much strength we gain through time. Of course, we rarely realize it until we’re tested.

  10. I read yesterday and wondered what was up, but didn’t have time to comment. I hope all is well, I try to remember that sometimes our trials seem overwhelming when we are going through them, but looking back it is the fire that has forged us into who we are – it has made us stronger, more resilient, more prepared for what is next. Please know you have many fans and supporters out here – keep looking ahead.

  11. I was thinking the whole time that your father and Dr. Stone were in cahoots to scare the be-Moses(?) out of you! That wasn’t the case? You really had an actual blackhead inside your ear!? Seriously!? They didn’t find ANYTHING else inside your ear…or head? 😉

  12. I completely forgot about burning warts off. Oh, the memories of youth! I like what Misty said, and I’m thinking of you and also a little jealous of your cute feet. My feet are purely utilitarian. Also good for support.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop