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It’s All I Can See

Ron Culberson

12/01/22 | Humor


It’s All I Can See

Does this sound familiar?

It’s the Saturday of your high school prom. You had a crush on another student for several months and a few weeks before the prom, you got up the nerve to ask them to go with you—and they said yes. You rented a tuxedo or bought a dress, made dinner reservations, and arranged for transportation to the big event. When you go into the bathroom to take a shower that Saturday morning, you look in the mirror and see a pimple the size of Rhode Island on your forehead.

Panic sets in. You search online for 24-hour emergency dermatology clinics and discover that apparently, dermatology is not a 24-hour emergency business. You run to the drug store and pick up concealer cream but since it doesn’t exactly match your skin color, once it’s applied, it looks like a patch of Silly Putty with a bubble in the middle of it. It reminds you of a joke involving carpet layers, a lump in the carpet, and a missing hamster.

You then try to cover up the pimple by combing your hair across your forehead. Not only does this look ridiculous, the pimple pokes through the locks of hair like someone peeking through the shower curtain looking for a towel. By noon, you’re exhausted from trying to hide, cover, and conceal, so you simply give up, realizing that you have little control over human biology.

Later, when you finally get dressed, you look in the mirror and realize that your clothing fits perfectly and the muted colors blend nicely with your drab alabaster skin tone. But there in the center of your forehead, all you can see is a red neon sign that warns, “Bumps A Head.” Later, at the prom, you’re convinced that your date keeps staring at your forehead. At the same time, you notice that they have a wart on the side of their ear that you never noticed before. It’s actually more obvious than your pimple.

(Please note that the previous example may or may not have been based on real events. Let’s not focus on that right now but instead, let’s look at the problem.)

As much as I would like to think that I can overlook the occasional blemish in my life, I must admit that I’m terrible at it. Early in my career, one of my front teeth looked like it was heading for the exit. It seemed to bend more and more every day until it was approaching a right angle. As a speaker, I’m very aware of anything that might distract the audience from my profound insights and engaging repartee. That’s why I don’t typically call attention to my good looks and chiseled physique but rather try to make my appearance blend into the background. This tooth, however, was projecting my Appalachian-ness a bit too blatantly and I was very self conscious. Ironically, no one ever mentioned the angle of my tooth and when I pointed it out to a friend, he said, “Oh, I didn’t notice.”

And that is the problem with my perspective. I am acutely aware of problems that are usually of no concern to others. For instance, a few weeks ago, I was dining at a nice restaurant and excused myself to go to the restroom. Before returning, I started to wash my hands but the water pressure was so high, the water shot out of the faucet, up the side of the sink, and directly onto an area of my pants where no moisture should exist after a trip to the restroom. All the way back to my table I kept brushing my pants and saying, a bit too loudly, “Wow, that water pressure in the bathroom is like Old Faithful. Boy, those sinks can sure spray the water. I’m drenched. Gee, gosh, wow!”

When I arrived at my table and continued my nervous declarations, everyone just glanced my way but never paid any attention to my pants. I was sure they would accuse me of having an unfortunate toilet incident or suggest that my bathroom skills were not what they should be. But alas, I was the only one who cared.

As we go through life and in particular, as we go into the holiday season, perhaps it would be helpful if we didn’t always focus on the pimples, the crooked teeth, and the wet spots in our lives. Instead, maybe we should try to see the good around us rather than the one thing that’s creating a challenge. When we realize that the problem is only a small part of who we are and that our lives are full of smooth skin, straight teeth, and dry pants, the blemishes might not seem so important.

I guess what I’m saying is that maybe, we should get better at seeing what’s right rather than what’s wrong. It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? Well, it is. In fact, it’s as obvious as the pimple on my face.
To plug in my phone, I had to pull the mattress back from the wall and feed the cord through a narrow opening in the headboard. Once I did that, I was able to run the cord across the box springs and anchor it over the corner of the bedside table with the hotel phone. After getting all of this situated, I was exhausted and hopped into bed. The weight of my body on the mattress yanked the phone off the table and it landed in between the mattress and the side rails. I had already set my alarm so I just left it there and went to sleep.

After a fitful night waiting for the alarm on the clock radio to go off, I got up early and took a shower. As I finished, I looked for a towel and discovered they were located on a shelf under the sink about twenty feet from the shower. I wanted to take picture, just to prove my point, but my phone was still caught in the side of the bed. I couldn’t imagine who thought it was a good idea to put the towels so far from the shower? I did consider walking out into the hallway to let my naked body “air dry,” as a form of protest, but I didn’t want to run into someone I might see at my presentation. I’ve heard it said that speakers should imagine audience members in their underwear as a way to reduce their anxiety. But I suspect that most audiences have no good reason to see their speaker naked.

After my program was over, I was relieved to leave the rustic resort and head back home where my chairs, my outlets, and my towels are exactly where they should be. I boarded the plane and soon found out that our departure time was delayed because of a mechanical problem. The pilot told us that he wanted to conserve fuel while we waited so he would not be using the air conditioner. I sat there sweating like Davy Crockett at the Alamo and decided to pass the time by watching a movie that I had downloaded to my phone. I opened the app and got an alert that I my phone only had 2% of its battery left. Apparently, the outlet on the wall behind the headboard and beneath my mattress only worked when the overhead light was on.

I couldn’t help thinking, Now, who thought that was a good idea?