I debated whether or not to write this. I did an identical post four years ago so why repeat myself? Why preach and berate and bore you with the same tired sermon? But I’ve decided to pulpit-up and warn you about the dangers of overexposure to the sun. Some disturbing imagery follows so if you’re squeamish, bail out now.
For the second time in four years, I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. It’s a benign form of skin cancer that (thankfully) rarely metastasizes beyond the original tumor site. You get it from going to the beach year after year and not using enough sunscreen. As my dermatologist hectored, even wearing strong sunblock is no guarantee. He said that people mistake a high SPF as a suit of iron. It’s not. The only true protection is to stay in the shade, although he acknowledges the unlikelihood of that.
Here are the consequence of my folly. Once again, I went under the knife and had a precious piece of me removed.
Heart-shaped wound, as opposed to a wounded heart.
I thought I was being clever by popping earbuds in during the procedure. I thought the music would drown out the violence that was being perpetrated upon my head. Do you know how if you plug your fingers in your ears and eat a potato chip, you can hear the crunching inside your head really loud? That’s what happened here. I heard the music playing but I also heard the amplified scrape, scrape, scrape of my scalp being removed.
I got lectured again by a dermatologist with perfect skin. He’s right, of course. We all know the danger of overexposure to the sun. But, like moths to the flame, we do it anyway. It feels good. It looks good. What fools we mortals be. I’ll have a proper scar on the right side of my forehead to match the one on the left side from the first procedure. I’m hoping it makes me look a little more bad-ass. The procedure wasn’t painful but I felt everything. There was more psychological terror than physical pain. In addition to the scraping, I also felt the thread pass through my skin and the two flaps being pulled together.
Same warning as last time, folks. The usual clichés apply. Be careful. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. We love you and wouldn’t want to lose any of you. USE SUNSCREEN. I get my stitches out in the morning. Instead of scurrying back to the office, I’ll take a sick day, drive down to Atlantic City and visit the casinos. It was never a very dignified place to begin with but now, with all the casino closings, it’s a sad, broken hulk of a town. Every time I feel bad about myself—I don’t make enough money, I’m not passionate about my work, I didn’t set the world on fire artistically, etc.—I visit Atlantic City and have look around. It turns out I’m doing fine. With the hand I was dealt early on, I could’ve easily wound up down there with the other 8:00 a.m. denizens of the crap tables. I do feel a genuine kinship with those busted guys, but I’m glad I have a place to go after 7-out.
In my previous post, I had a proper chuckle at the expense of the Björk exhibit at MoMA. But on a different floor in the same museum is this: These are considered to be 20th century masterpieces that changed the definition of what constitutes art. It’s also a snow shovel hanging from the ceiling and a bicycle wheel stuck to a stool. Back in 2002, a bicycle wheel sold for $1.7 million. Can you imagine what it’d sell for today?!
Who knows? One day, Björk might be seen as someone who was ahead of her time. This is not a pipe, indeed.