The old man from his days as a farm kid to his days as a brick layer was out in the sun all of the time. He wore a hat though mostly because people in the south wear hats to keep from passing out in the heat. But he didn’t cover his arms, especially his forearms, and after a lifetime in the sun, the skin on his arms didn’t look like human skin, but more like alligator hide with some sort of alligator hide skin disease. As a dermatologist might say, his forearms were just one big pre-cancerous lesion. So he got to going to the dermatologist once a year and the doctor gave him some salve or maybe he spread it on right there, I don’t know, but this stuff was some sort of acid that would burn down the pre-cancerous lesions a bit.
So one day, I am looking in the mirror and I see this pimple forming on my upper lip, so I keep an eye on it, and it comes to a head, and I think it’s going to pop or disappear, and it does disappear a little, but then it comes back, and it looks like it is going to pop, but doesn’t, and when I squeeze the sucker it feels hard inside. I am a hypochondriac, and every day I get up I think I am not going to live to the same day, next week.
So I am totally freaked out—like the time I thought I was getting herpes on my eyeballs—but I go to the dermatologist and my worst fears are realized. I am sitting in that little fucking patient room where they make you sit, and the doctor is talking to the nurse right next door, and I hear the word “cancer,” and they said it with a sort of hush around it.
So before I know it, I am across the hall in another room, flat on my back, and they numb my lip and the doc goes to work, and I have blood going up my nose and down into my mouth, and the motherfucking doctor pauses to call the nurses in, and asks them to take a look at that. The fucker wants them to admire his handiwork. And what the hell, but I am right there and feel like I am a bent fender or something.
So the doc leaves and I ask the nurse like what the hell is going on. And she says the doc just removed a cancer from my lip, something called squamous, maybe, and that the doc thinks he has got it all and that he did a good job sewing up my lip, since he has done the procedure about 300 times, and that’s good because some doctors screw up and sew the lip back together crooked and you come out with a crooked or twisted looking lip. So while I am pretty pissed off at this doctor for being an egomaniac, vain glorious motherfucker and treating me like a piece of meat, I am also happy that the vain glorious mother fucker knew what he was doing.
I have to say but on the basis of my experience with five or so dermatologists I must conclude they all have severe personality defects. They walk in and I point to this thing on my skin and without saying a word they grab the nitrogen bottle and blast the spot. The first time that happened the mother fucker didn’t even bother to tell me what would happen, so I was like shocked when I got home and found these huge blisters all over my face. The only dermatologist I met that seemed sane was a real old guy who retired soon after I saw him.
He actually talked with me a bit. I know because I asked him a question, and he said being a dermatologist these days was not being a dermatologist at all. Like a real dermatologist was supposed to cure mysterious skin diseases and such, but today all a dermatologist does is cut cancerous shit out of people. And that is surgery, not dermatology. We are seeing he says, cancers that we used to see only on sailors, and we cut the shit out and they go back and lie in the sun.