I was in ninth grade the first time I saw it. Sure I'd seen elementary kids eat their own boogers. I'd watched a kid chew the ABC gum from under his desk. I'd even seen a guy make some mystery bubbles in the swimming pool. All that stuff was gross, but nothing compared to the day I met The Pimple Eater.
He was this kid, well not THIS kid, but he was a kid who sat by me in history. He had a crush on my friend (who was gorgeous) and I'd always felt bad for the nerd with a crush. Well, I felt bad--until I saw him eat his own pimple. First he squeezed it, then in slow motion everyone gasped! I swear the whole class saw the crime and kids called him The Pimple Eater after that.
I had nightmares about him and couldn't get the imagine from my mind. He'd eat the thing and his face would turn into a massive zit. "You are what you eat!" he'd say. It was a terrible dream, portraying that some things are worse than death!
I'm not sitting here, claiming I was better or that I wasn't a major nerd in ninth grade. I'm probably still a nerd. But in ninth grade, I was even worse. If you don't believe me then I need to post my Science video. I was so proud to be spouting about charges, why the melting point for ionic compounds is higher than molecular ones, why some sea model could represent electrons existing in metals. It was awesome--A worthy--at least I thought so at the time.
So, anyway, years later when I was twenty, after I'd had the Scribe and Zeke had passed away, I met up with one of my old friends from high school. She was always so much fun. She'd tell you exactly how she felt. She didn't hide a thing and I've always loved that about her.
As we walked around the mall, which is NOT my favorite place (I despise shopping unless it's at a secondhand store), we started talking about junior high and high school. She laughed. "I think we both look much better than we did back then. People probably wouldn't even recognize us."
She'd always looked awesome, but for my sake, I hoped her statement was true. I'd been the nerd I told you about before. But to top things off, some people had called me Bible Girl. It wasn't the worst nickname out there, but it wasn't the best. They called me that because I always carried a Bible with me. I'd read it so many times, the cover fell off and I duct-taped the thing together. I wrote scriptures all over the cover, drew pictures about people finding Jesus. My goal all through school was to tell people about God. I'm not saying it was a bad goal, but that was all I did. While other people played soccer, sang and had fun, I dropped out of marching band and all my other activities too. Instead, I became a goal-oriented teen and started a Bible study.
My friend stopped pushing The Scribe for a minute and asked if she could buy her a cookie. I nodded and as they walked away, I realized we were almost in the very center of the mall. Now, like I wrote before, I don't like malls, but there's something magical about being in the very center of one. I stepped to the side, until standing directly under a beautiful glass dome they'd built into the ceiling. I looked up, using the center of the mall, like it was a megaphone to God. I saw the blue sky beyond the dome. I know scattered rays of light spread around me and the tiled floor under the dome. I thought about my high school life, wishing I'd had a bit more fun instead of completely sacrificing my school years. I wondered if I'd made the right choice, if I'd even impacted anyone's life for good, wondering if it had been worth it.
That's when someone stood next to me. I turned expected to see my friend and The (baby) Scribe. It wasn't them though, it was a gorgeous man! He looked at the dome. "I love the mall," he said. He was well over six-feet tall. He had a jaw, chiseled into perfection, green eyes and short-black curly hair. I had to clear my throat. Was he an angel? I'd just been praying to God, had He sent an angel to tell me I'd been on track?
"Ummm . . . the mall. It's not my favorite place, but I guess this part isn't bad." I pointed to the ceiling.
We stared at it for a while longer. "So, I don't think I've seen you around here before. I would have remembered," he said.
Was he seriously talking to me? I couldn't believe he'd even want to talk with me. Did people like him even talk--his muscles were huge! Plus, he was supposed to be one of those guys who can't formulate a sentence. That proved it, he had to be an angel. I giggled really hard. Then thought just in case he wasn't angelic, I needed to do something. Somehow I put my hand to my face so he could see my wedding ring. "I've been here once before. It was with my husband. He's a great guy. He likes the sport's store."
"Wow, you got married young. I always wondered what happened to you after high school. When I saw you, well I kept thinking maybe we could go out sometime."
I turned to him and squinted. "You know me?"
"Of course I do. You were one of the only kids who didn't call me . . . You know what, I'm glad I saw you." He grabbed my hand and squeezed it. "I need to tell you 'thank you.' You were one of the only kids who was still nice after . . . You never called me The Pimple--well you know. You never called me that. You were always nice and you never judged me."
I gasped. I felt like we were in the fairytale about Beauty and the Beast. Could it be? Had that pimple lover turned into a prince? Then the vision hit me, the same one I couldn't get from my mind years before. I remembered him picking his zit. I remembered the slow, very tragic journey it made to his mouth. I remembered what his face would look like as a big white . . . head. I thought of his right hand which had initially carried the zit to his mouth, the one that still clutched my hand. I wanted to scream.
Did he still eat zits? Was it some crazy disease? If he kept holding my hand, would the disease creep up my arm and into my brain? Maybe I'd want to eat all of my post-teen zits too! I looked at him again. To think, I'd wondered if God had sent a message from an angel!
"Hey, Andy," my friend said as she walked over from the food court. She nearly laughed when she saw my face. She knew exactly what I was thinking. "Wow you clean up nice," she said to the guy. "I never would have thought you'd turn out into, well turn into an underwear model."
The Pimple Picker blushed and I wanted to scream again. Why was he still holding my hand? If there's one thing you don't do, you don't go to the center of the mall and hold someone's hand, that's almost as contractual as marriage!
"I've been working out a lot," The Pimple Eater said. "It's amazing how much people can change after high school. Is this your kid?" he asked her.
"No." She laughed. "She's Elisa's, who's married, but I'm still available."
He finally let go of my hand and I felt like I'd been hand raped! I turned, cooed to The (baby) Scribe. I acted like I wiped her face with a baby wipe and then I discretely wiped the pimple eating disease from my hand.
After we left the mall, I turned to my friend. "You gave him your number? You recognized him, and you gave him your number?"
"But he probably still eats his pimples! He did it when he was fifteen. That's not something you quit doing. Once an eater ALWAYS an eater. You can't date him!"
"Come on, Elisa. You were pretty nice to him. If you weren't married, you'd date him."
"Absolutely not! Sure, he's cute, but nothing's worth dating a pimple eater!"
"That body sure is!"
"Oh yuck!" I said.
She started giggling. "You should have seen your face when you realized who he was. I knew the exact moment it hit you! That was hilarious!"
"I was just thinking about how I was Bible Girl . . . and how I wasted years and didn't help anyone, and then he just came up and . . . and raped my hand!"
She laughed so hard the The Scribe laughed just for the sake of laughing. "Hand rape!" She calmed down after a minute. "Well, it sounds like you did impact someone's life. He couldn't stop talking about how nice you were in school."
I blinked. I rolled down the window and closed my eyes as the words hit me. I felt bad for being judgmental. Sure God views all sins the same, but Eating Pimples? Suddenly I knew who the biggest sinner was. It was me! I'd become a judgmental, mean, prudish sinner. I'd worried about his eating disorder--about standing in that contractual place in the mall--about dumb things, when I should have been viewing him as an awesome person.
"I totally judged that guy," I said. "And he'd been there at the right time. I'd asked God if my high school years were worth it, and then some guy basically walked up and told me they were." I turned to the window again and asked God to forgive me. "I feel really bad," I said. "I hope God will forgive me. Do you think that guy knew I was judging him?"
"Mr. Hand Rape? Absolutely not. You're really hard to read unless people know you. Don't feel bad about it, I'll make it up to him."
I turned to her and rolled my eyes. "You're still going to date The Pimple Eater?"
"Heck, yeah. Like I said, he's hot!"
So, I learned that I need to stop judging people who eat pimples, my friend may be blunt but sure is open-minded, and that maybe my teen years weren't a waste after all.
That being said, what would you have done?
Do you think I'm terrible for judging the guy?