The thing about growing older is that it can sometimes lure you into a false sense of security. For instance, when you’re six years old, you can’t wait to be fifteen as that’s when you’ll be able to cycle to school and not be ferried about by your annoying mother who insists on touching your hair for no reason and sweeping you up, on the slightest provocation, for a cuddle and a kiss.
And then, when you’re fifteen, you can’t wait to be in your twenties, because you’ll have gotten an office job, moved out of home and not be bothered by anyone. And, of course, when you’re in your twenties, you realize that it was much better to be in your teens because nobody told you about something ridiculous called rent, mortgage and income tax.
In the case of my flatmate, Saffy, some days, it’s just much better to stay in bed.
A few days ago, at the breakfast table, she lowered her handheld mirror and stared at us in horror.
“How did this happen? It’s not like I’m still in puberty!” she whispered, her eyes wide open.
Amanda pursed her lips and frowned, while I tried hard not to stare at the ugly huge red pimple that pulsed angrily on the tip of her nose. You couldn’t even pretend it was something else like a mole or something. This was clearly a pimple and by the looks of it, it was here to stay.
Saffy raised the mirror for another look. She moaned. “This is a nightmare! I went to bed with clear skin and this morning, I wake up looking like Bill Bloody Clinton!”
“Could you maybe put some concealer on it?” Amanda said, still frowning and looking at the pimple sideways just in case it decided to leap off Saffy’s nose and attach itself to her face.
“I’ve already put an entire stick on it, but the shade is too light!” Saffy sniffed. “And it really hurts!”
“Have you tried, uhm, you know, popping it?” I said, leaning back.
“Are you mad?” Amanda snapped. “That’s a blind pimple. It won’t have a head! If you squeeze it, it will just built up pressure inside and make it grow bigger and more painful!”
Saffy squealed and promptly burst into tears.
As I later posted on Facebook, since when did pimples have categories? And leave it to Amanda to know them on a first name basis.
Saffy called in sick at work and refused to leave the flat. She disabled the FaceTime function on her iPhone and ignored all her Skype calls. “I simply cannot be seen!” she told Sharyn piteously on the phone.
“Aiyah, only a pimple, what! Why you so gun-zheong?” Sharyn said.
“Sharyn, this is no ordinary pimple! It’s a blind pimple!” Saffy said with grim pride.
“Hah? Where got such thing, one?”
Every other minute, Saffy would inspect her nose at close range by the light of the window, hoping that by some miracle, it had gotten smaller in the last two minutes. But this one refused to budge even though Saffy threw everything in her considerable arsenal of topical acne creams at it. And when that didn’t work, she sent Amanda off to a dermatologist with a fake acne problem.
“Make sure he gives you super strong antibiotics!” she said, shoving Amanda out the door.
“Saffy, he’s not going to believe I have acne!” Amanda protested as she scrabbled to get a firm grip on the edge of the door. “My skin is flawless and I’m not just saying that. It is! You’ve seen how much birds nest I drink!”
Finally, this morning, four days after it first appeared, Saffy announced that she detected the faintest hint of a white head. “The end is near!” she said with deep satisfaction as she turned her head in the mirror for a better angle.
She sat down at the dining table with a big bowl of hot water and draped a towel over her head. “I’m going to steam this bugger wide open!” she said, her voice somewhat muffled.
“But don’t do it too long!” Amanda said. “You don’t want to burst the fragile blood vessels in your face.”
Saffy later said that if Amanda ever got sacked as a lawyer, she’d have a great second career as a cosmetician. By then, Saffy had successfully burst the pimple in what she says was a spectacular dermatological explosion. “It was like a scene from ‘Alien’! God, it felt good!” she crowed. “I wonder if giving birth is like that! What! Don’t look at me like that! You know what I mean!”