Sunday, May 20, 2012

the zit inside my nostril

I wish I could recall when and where I was when it happened.
At this point in my senescence, all I can say is that it happened years ago.
I was younger then, and braver.

A zit once formed inside my right nostril, and while I'm fuzzy on certain details, I do remember that it was hiding in the right nostril, not the left, and that it first announced its presence when I randomly swiped my nose in one of those random, quasi-noseblowing gestures that we all sometimes make, often without thinking. The zit had grown large enough to hurt, which is why I paid attention to the gesture this particular time. I felt my nose on the outside, already thinking that I had an ingrown zit but not completely sure of the fact. I tentatively slid a finger into my nostril and... palpated. My suspicions were confirmed.

Now morbidly curious, I went to a mirror, angled my face as far as I could toward the light, and peered into my nostril. A massive mountain of a zit stared balefully back at me like a coiled demon in a cave, its contours warping the topology of my naris, causing the hairs to radiate in strange directions in a hirsute travesty of a droplet-splash photo. I found myself secretly glad that I hadn't accidentally popped the monster: the destruction of this zit was going to be fun. What's more, the conclusion of my upcoming battle was already foreordained: the zit was undeniably huge and ready to go. All it would need was a single judicious squeeze.

Because the gruesome mound was situated on the lateral inner surface of my nostril-- the whitehead pointed roughly toward my filtrum and the mound's base pointed upward toward my right cheekbone or eye-- I knew that no special equipment would be needed. It was simply a matter of pinching my nostril from the outside and squeezing, in much the same way that you can pinch a contact lens in half to form a "closing clamshell" shape.

I locked onto my right nostril with my right hand, using my thumb and index finger as two halves of a pincer, and...


I no longer remember whether there was a satisfying pop, but I can tell you that the aftermath, in which I unclenched my fingers and peered into my nostril, was pretty messy. Like a comparable zit on the surface of one's skin, the nostril-zit had vomited three phases of cargo: first was the liquidy white pus; next came that awful glob of equally white but denser material; finally, there was the obligatory blood. The whole thing was a messy jumble inside my nose; the three phases didn't look as if they had come out in succession, but they were separate enough to be somewhat distinct, like an oatmeal-and-jam mixture that's been stirred only twice and then set upon the table. Or like a tiny fetus that's been blown up by an equally tiny grenade-- an abortion in my nostril.

Relief washed over me, and grim satisfaction. I dug into my nose with a twisted rat-tail of toilet paper and swabbed out the afterbirth: once; twice. The demon was gone, banished to the outer darkness. The inside of my nostril hadn't settled back into its normal shape, but some instinct told me that I had emptied the zit out in one go.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

"Invictus," William Ernest Henley, 1888



hahnak said...

thank you so much! im surprised you didnt talk more about the pain. i had a zit in my nostril once. it hurt SO much! and i wasnt able to pop it. i just had to suffer and i had allergies too, so i was always blowing and wiping. very painful. eventually it got reabsorbed. youre so lucky, kevin.

Kevin Kim said...

You're welcome!

What was strange to me was that it somehow managed to form-- and to balloon up to such an enormous size-- without my even noticing. It did hurt when I first touched my nose, but I don't recall the popping having been all that painful, probably because the zit was ready to burst.

Maven said...

How utterly poetic! CARGO INDEED!

Now imagine, if you will, the tenderest of topics, of a boil on the vulva. I have encountered these several times in my life, and each time with the energy of a feral junk yard dog, and with the tenacity and single-mindedness of a rat terrier. Whomever said that being a woman is a beautiful thing certainly never dealt with the likes of the demon that is a vulva boil.

Nostril zit be damned, I'm kegeling.

hahnak said...

maven, take a look here: