And I didn’t even need to learn long division, anyway

One morning when I was in Grade 5, I woke up with a giant pimple on my left cheek.

It was a deep red and it burned brightly on my face. I picked at it all day, digging deeply with my stubby fingernails. The more I picked at it, the hotter it got, but I wanted it off of my face so badly. I was already self-conscious about everything else about myself — my clothes, my hair, the fact that I was already 50 pounds heavier than my class of 15 students — I really didn’t need this pimple to make me feel bad as well.

As I slept that night, I hoped that it would be gone the next day, but when I woke up, it was darker and bigger. As I sat through my lessons on simple machines and the French word for bedroom, my pimple consumed my thoughts. It distracted me from what was important at the time: crying about long division and listening to my friends talk about which of the five boys in our class was the best at football and therefore the cutest.

As the week went on, my pimple faded to a flat brown colour. It had taken on a velvety feel different from my otherwise smooth face. I pressed on it, hoping that if I pushed hard enough it would return back into my cheek and that I could go back to the other things that worried me, like if everyone could see that I had to wear a training bra already.

The months came and went and my newfound mole had developed a newfound trait. Thick, jet-black, unsightly hairs had started to grow straight out of it. All the pinching I could muster couldn’t pull them out. It became a weekly routine of mine to pluck the hairs out before I had to start the school week. I would rub my sore cheek feeling my smooth soft skin, comforted by the uniformity of my face and how, if I did this one thing, I could be like everyone else. I updated my Mii so it would reflect my new mole.

I’ve been plucking my mole for 12 years now. I have left parties early because I have forgotten to pluck my mole. To say it consumes my mind is an understatement.

In my long meetings with doctors and nurses, they make me look at printed-out sheets of paper that tell me all the effects of starting testosterone. More facial hair starts in three to six months, they say. Facial hair will be great, people tell me. I’ll get to blend in and no one will question my masculinity. I’ll trade my tweezers for a razor. The fact that my whole face will feel like my mole means I have a new thing to consume my mind now.