I have titled this post a blushing story because it is only one of so many:
I am 18 years old at the dermatologist. I’m 15 pounds fatter than I am now and pissed because I have acne all over my forehead and of course, dermatologists can never figure out why.
I’m waiting. My mom is waiting, too, sitting across from me and looking at me.
We’re tired. I say something like, “I hate dermatologists. Why can’t they just give me the strongest thing first and be done with it?”
“I know. I know,” my mom says. She has always had a problem with all kinds of doctors because so far, they’ve done nothing good in our lives.
Then the doctor walks in. He is young, he is handsome. He walks lightly as if he is happy.
I’m not prepared for this young doctor with blond hair. I start blushing.
He says, “Okay, Tara, we’re going to try to figure this out for you today,” or something. My mom starts talking about the crap on my head. She is talking in her tone of, “Look. I know you think you know everything already because you’ve glanced at that sheet for 10 seconds, but listen to me.”
The doctor listens hard to my mom, which is good because maybe my blushing will go away by the time he looks at me. When she is done talking, he reassures her that he will figure this out, then puts on his gloves and turns to me and says, “So what high school do you go to, Tara?”
I start sweating in random places, like in the crevices around my nose and in my eyebrows. My mom turns her attention to me and then her eyes open wide. I can feel the blushing thumping in my cheeks, getting ready to charge.
“Redmond High School,” I say and then all hell breaks loose. I look at my mom, who is now tilting her head to get another look at my red face. My blushing intrigues her.
The doctor says something about Redmond High School and then asks me to lift my head. I blush harder. I sweat harder. My mom closes her eyes because she’s embarrassed now. For me, of me.
The doctor holds my chin in his hands and looks right up into my skin. My sweating skin. He moves closer, inches away from face. I look into his eyes as he brushes my bangs from my forehead. I see him look at the blotches of blush exploding all over my forehead like red fireworks. No doubt he also sees the sweat clinging to my hairline and the sweat pooling around my acne.
Never with any man before then, never with any man since then, INCLUDING MY OWN HUSBAND, have I felt so vulnerable. Here I was, a bloated faced girl, sitting nose to nose with a stranger who was literally holding all my weaknesses in his hands and scrutinizing every centimeter of them–my shyness, my fears, my helplessness, my insecurities, my acne wounds, my sweat drops, my–my blushing.
The one constant thing in my life that controls me. I am afraid of it. It comes when I expect it, it comes when I don’t expect it. There’s no telling. I can’t prevent it or prepare for it. And when it finally comes, which it does, always and in full force, I can’t stop it. Unlike Batman, I can’t face the fear because the fear is my face.