The warts are above his left eye, on the temple, wading in a few liver spots. The pimple is on the crease of the nose’s right nostril. They are in shouting distance of each other.
The warts mostly keep to themselves. They’re a pair. They’ve been together for years. They probably don’t even remember when or where they came into existence but they happened simultaneously like strange mushrooms forming in damp soil, occurring without disruption. They’re the kind of features that appear on a face that doesn’t notice the details of the self. The warts are two tiny brown blips on the bigger color: they are casual residents of a forcefully white face. It’s big and pale, pinky, lined and creased, growing into something that is more of the same. The spots and dots—bottom rots—so central to the body pass strangely as typical, normal, indifferent. “Every wart is a mother wart that can have babies,” Dr. Robert Brodell explains. They could be the result of aging or nascent HPV.
The pimple is new. It was wholly present on January 25. It seemed to have simmered itself, unboiling, by January 30. By February 3, it had shifted to the left, perhaps reincarnated and renewed, returned for a different point of view. It lurks around a divotted red zone, a raw rash from too much poking and prodding. Or perhaps a lack of skincare. The likely culprits are flaring androgens, hormones related to male reproductive health. “Acne has its roots in the male hormones known as androgens,” Livestrong explains. “When androgens, which include the hormone testosterone, overstimulate the skin’s sebaceous glands, those glands can produce too much of the oil known as sebum. Extra sebum can clog your hair follicles and pores, allowing bacteria to take up residence.” A lack of skincare and raging maleness is enabling a flip-flopping of pimples on the nose, allowing for an open field of white specked spots prepared to shoot pus when pushed.
The warts and pimples aren’t very different. They’re abundant on his face (In fact, there are more warts on the right temple.) and represent the kind of older white male whose skin reveals itself to be a poor poker player, the manifestation of all that boils inside. Whether from junk food or stress or general malaise, the marks are here and they are talking away, chatting about all the problems happening within a person without saying anything. Existence is enough of a statement.
Yet it’s very obvious—Even easy.—to see that these are the marks of a someone who has changed. Instead of metamorphisizing into a delicately aged rice papered elder, the process of living has hardened the man, been cause to pick up whatever crumbs the world offers, the rolling stone halted to gather every type of moss and muck imaginable. He is “barely recognizable,” inside and out. Once a supposed cinematic stereotype of a preppy man or psuedo-granola biology enthusiast, now both the scientist and laboratory monster. An entity. A leviathan. A monolith.
You see that in the combination of those two warts and the pimple. They will not stay on simmer for long. The face will continue to change, the dots and spots continually swapping, new livers growing on the brow like a Trill without a healthy symbiotic relationship, without a balance. Perhaps the blemishes are neurosyphilitic manifestations, the insides revolting and attempting to call for help of the changing, deteriorating mind. Perhaps they are long dormant neurofibromatosis related cafe au lait spots.
The parts of all this might be harmless alone. They could add character. They could add age. They could make a person appear wiser. They could be paired with a low chortle to make someone believe that the chortler was indeed a grandfather, much like yours or mine, happy to razz but happy to help despite waning abilities.
In taken together, they become the representation of a wholly messy man, someone who is so beleaguered in backward thinking and entitled inexperience that they are impossible not to take as warning signs. They are grasps. They are loud. They are very pronounced. They are impossible to not stare directly at, the marks becoming the man and the man becoming the marks.