Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Rash

Angry Chair - Alice in Chains (mp3)
Little by Little - Oasis (mp3)

“Honestly, you’re the angriest man I’ve ever known.” -- Winona, to Raylan Givens, on Justified

I’ve got this rash. It started as just a little red dot on the outside edge of my right eye socket. At first I thought it was a zit, and I tried popping it during my semi-occasional facial grooming sessions, when I tweeze hairs from my ears and remove blackheads the same way cavemen probably did millions of years ago: with clumsy brute digital force.

I’m no doctor, but trying to pop a rash is generally a bad idea. So here I am, four weeks later, with a rash big enough on the side of my face that everyone is asking me about it. And it’s like they all noticed at the same time.

“Ooh. What’s going on there?” they ask, one after the other.

“Rash, I think.”

“You think? You think you might oughtta check that out? Like, with a doctor?” they say.

“Yeah. Probably. If it doesn’t go away in the next few days.”

“How long it been there already?” they ask.

“I dunno. Maybe a couple of weeks?”

“You oughtta let a doctor check that out.”

“Hmm. Thanks.”

And then they walk on and go about their business.

And I sit there wondering, Didn’t they notice it sooner? It was practically the same size yesterday, and practically the same size the day before and the day before. What was it about today that suddenly brought the rash to light?

And then I realize, it was several weeks before I even acknowledged to myself, and then another week before I accepted that it was a full-on rash, and I still haven’t quite come to accept that whatever this slightly itchy red patch on my face might be, it could use the eyeballs of a doctor. Maybe that happens when it doesn’t go away next week. Maybe.

My face is the story of my anger.

Today, I am an angrier person than I was six months ago. This doesn’t make me an angry person. By all accounts, I’m 4.7% angrier now than I was back in November. My anger quotient risen only a fraction of a percentage each day, not even a full percentage point in a week. It’s so subtle I didn’t even notice it myself for several weeks.

But now others are noticing. And they’re looking at me and wondering what’s going on, what’s wrong, what untold mystery would explain this increased anger...

Meanwhile, it’s grown enough that I can no longer dismiss it or ignore it, but I continue insisting, Just wait a few more days... it’ll go away on its own... you treat it the wrong way and the damn thing will just get inflamed...

But the doubt is there, in the back of my mind. Is it serious? Is it something worse than I’m willing to admit? Is it mere temporal annoyance or the sign of a Problem, a Situation?

Now I’m looking in the mirror every morning when I wake up, and every late evening when I’m going to bed, and I’m studying that rash, wondering whether it will continue spreading, remain fixed in its current state, or slowly begin to fade into the paleness of my flesh.

And I think of the older, grouchier, more miserable people I encounter daily, people beaten down and worn down and brought down by time and life, and I can't help but wonder if I've taken my first irreversible steps into some kind of transformation into an entirely different sort of person.

All the while, unable to know exactly when and how the rash began.

1 comment:

Bob said...

Billy, I didn't know about the whole anger thing. I just saw the Duke buzzer-beater. Now I get it. Duke was down 13 with 11 minutes to go when I checked in on that game last night. It looked like a blowout. Wow.