Blandishments

I have a very odd penchant of picking out gay dermatologists. Maybe they’re not gay. Maybe they’re just really friendly. I’m not really sure, but they do plenty more emotional work than the the family doc back on Staten Island. Eh?

I’m not going to talk about the encounter I had with one dermatologist’s assistant who threw major shade at me for not being as sexually active as for what he deemed was normal for young, strapping lads like myself. I mean, Jesus. Then again, I am in the city. Anyway.

This dermatologist, I will name him, Dr. Jablocoz, saw me once before. He must like me. I’m also not very swift. “You’re young,” he tells me. “You look great.” He must be many years my senior, but he himself looks very young. I just have a young face. My skin is pretty “worn out,” so said some soap maker in Brooklyn. Thanks.

Anyway, I tell him how unhappy I am with my skin, but this guy is just coming on hard. I’m like, dude, I’m not here to flirt; you’re in the wrong place. I’m coming to you expressly with my insecurities: they’re written on my face.

Nevertheless. I look into his eyes while he talks to me, and even though he shifts his glance a centimeter down, onto my bare skin unsmooth from pustules, my mood grows mild for an instant.

He praises me. My skin, to him, looks much better since the last I saw him. “You don’t sound convinced,” he says, after I agree with his assessment. Nothing, doc, nothing will win me over.

Let’s take a look, he says. I like when he touches my face. He smooths it over with his thumb, and my skin sheds into white erasure rubbings. I’m having a hard time believing what he says, because the mirror is cruelly acute in its brightness, and flesh reflected back is severely irritated. But what is wrong? “Say hi,” he says, handing me the mirror. “Say hi, baby.” The mirror stares back blankly.

The spots that were severely inflammed will turn to scars, he says. He suggests laser surgery in the future. My eyelids lower. Like he says, we cannot rebuild the city until the war is over. Geez. I’m sitting here thinking some makeup might fix my problems and we’re talking about collateral damage. He continues the encouragement. But you look good, he tells me.

He gets up and sits on the windowsill. I stretch myself out on the doctor’s chair a little more. “Okay,” I say, “let’s talk about…-” but I am interrupted; he mirrors the words to the song, “sex, ba-by” placed by “hm”s. I smile as I talk, acknowledging the ditty as if it were a compliment. The lines, that’s what I talk about. He’s got nothing else to say, really, in regards to that; expression lines are expression lines and they are there to stay. Despite his only having touched me once, I feel like I’m already fucked.

When he leaves, he says he would like to see me in four weeks and gives me a nice business handshake. As he walks out, he says that I’m doing great and puts his hand on my shoulder. I squeeze his arm to reciprocate.

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