Pop goes the new year

Portland dating: Bramhall Square
By CAITLIN SHETTERLY  |  January 19, 2006

While some people might have spent New Year’s popping the cork on cold bottles of Cristal, I was sitting on Cowboy’s back, pinning him down with my knees as I popped pimples in the interest of “cleansing” out the bad, and being squeaky-clean for 2006. This was not Cowboy’s idea of a fabulous evening ­– he wriggled and yelled and called me a Nazi. But there’s one dividend he was sure to receive after I was done getting out all my aggression–he got to take me, a T-shirt covering his oozy sore back.

I’m an obsessive pimple-popper. My mother thinks this is some kind of disease relating to my heritage in the Primate family that makes my hands wander to pick at every little thing on my body ... and sometimes, I admit, my victims. Well, mostly, boyfriends. I remember my mother telling me from a very young age about popping the pimples on my father’s back when they first were together, so, to my mind, my obsessions are a case of Nature. Maybe somehow this got imprinted in my mind as a vision of love ... or power ... God only knows now that my parents are divorced.

Sometimes I have to beg Cowboy to let me take a stab at his back. This is familiar territory because I had to beg all my other boyfriends, too. This weird bed-time bargaining begins with “PUHLEEESE ...”

“Fine. I’ll let you do JUST one ... in exchange for ... (wink wink nod nod).” Of course once I’m up there, riding rodeo-style on the wriggling back of a Cowboy pinned, I try to take a few liberties.

“Baby, I said JUST ONE!!!”

“Oh, but there’s a REALLY good one right here — it won’t hurt at all — it really needs it.”



“What did I say? AHHHHHG. You said it was small.”

“And then this little blackhead.”

“No. Get off me.”

“Oh, don’t be a baby. This can’t really hurt you.”

“I would love just once for you to have a zit on your back that I could pop.”

“Women have higher thresholds for pain. Now buck up, bucko. Oooooh. Here’s a perfect one.”

And so it continues until I am thrown from my saddle.

The truth is that I, myself, am not immune to my obsession. I pick my face. I’m 31 and I still get pimples. Part of the reason I still get pimples is that I pick every pore which I think could possibly be clogged or enlarged. My pimples (see how this circles back) are an obsession of my mother’s. She wants to conquer whatever weird mutation makes my skin break out at 31 years of age. We’ve tried products and yoga and cleanses and caffeine free diets. Still, the zits come back right around my period, or during any surge of high stress. Cowboy tries to get me to stop going to town on my face (I tend to indulge when feeling low about myself. Can’t someone do a study that relates this to Cutting?) and loves to point out the obvious when he meets up with me in town: “Baby, you picked the shit out of your face.” “I know,” I say, humbled by my deformity.

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