We Be Cystin'
I am a disgusting human being. I have come to terms with this, and I have reached a point in my life where I no longer care if I am disgusting. At this old age my biggest concerns revolve around what sporting event will be on television on a given evening and if I can stay sober enough to watch it all without accidentally mistaking my walk-in closet for an oversized urinal, and then later for an inefficient, asparagus-smelling sauna filled with cargo jeans and No Fear shirts.
Since I could replace “sporting event” with “Lazy Town” or “bootlegged Korean amputee porn” and probably describe most of your lives, too, I think it’s important to start this update with a brief look at my morning schedule. This is not in the name of one-upmanship. Why? Because even if I am the most disgusting human being I know, and even if I am sitting at my computer at 1 p.m. asking my roommates to compare the smell of urine to a vegetable for “something I’m writing”, you’re still the one reading it.
MY MORNING SCHEDULE
Noon Wake up, then try to get up from bed without stepping in a half-eaten TV dinner from a few weeks ago
12:15 Try to get down hallway to the bathroom without tripping over the cardboard box that’s been in the middle of the floor since I moved here
12:18 Lift toilet lid and urinate again
12:25 Take dog to backyard so he can take a leak, hoping he doesn’t discover the pile of dishes I took out and buried under a pile of leaves so I didn’t have to wash them
12:50 Head back to bedroom, take drink of three-day-old Pepsi with cigarette butt in it, vomit directly into my backpack, vow to “clean it up later”
12:55 Check email, delete all the spam except for the one with a huge penis looming over a crying woman like a miniature pink Death Star
1 Browse the Internet, accidentally eat a couple of my girlfriend’s birth control pills after mistaking them for candy, continue eating them when I realize all the real food’s back downstairs
1:30 Dig through the pile of clothes in the floor, looking for an outfit that doesn’t smell like a combination of fish eggs and green onions; look for a pair of socks that don’t break in half when I try to smooth them out
1:45 Try to figure out why my backpack sloshes like an oil flask on my way to class
1:47 Remember source of sloshing; dump contents of backpack into neighbor’s bushes
1:50 Wipe remainder of mess off with my hands, then wipe hands on neighbor’s porch cat
2 Realize I can’t go to class without books, decide not to go after all
MONTHS LATER: Storm out of new job at Burger King after management makes me watch a video called “Hygiene and the King”.
This is not to say my life is all bad. For instance: I have a huge cyst on my hand. While writing this sentence the thought occurred to me that I am actually getting paid to write about the cyst, which is pretty goddamn cool if you ask me. Really it more than makes up for the fact that I have a giant, fleshy pus balloon protruding from my left ring finger, even more so when you consider the fact that it won me an award.
You read that right. My cyst won an award. And it wasn’t just any award. It was the GOLDEN SPECIAL. How many of you can boast that? Have any of you won an award for your physical deformity? Not unless you’re that Australian surfer girl who got her arms ripped off by a shark, and even then I guarantee you she’s not getting paid to write about it. Keyboards are designed for fingers, not forearm-sized nubs.
The road to my cyst’s award was a long one indeed. When I was in high school my reaction to the slightest adversity was “punch a wall”. Bad grade on a math test? Punch a wall. Dad grounded me for a week? Punch a wall. Someone told me that walls have these things called “studs”, which are essentially huge pieces of wood there to break stupid teenagers’ knuckles? Punch a wall twice to get your point across. As a result of all this willy-nilly wall-punching, two things happened:
- Most of my knuckles turned into flattened little chunks of jagged bone and gray, elephantine flesh, which made it a real bitch to flip my dad off behind his back without my hand looking like Whoopi Goldberg making a funny face; and
- a baby golf ball that felt like a water balloon filled with melted peanut butter popped up out of my ring finger.
The first point was kind of a nightmare (you can’t imagine how many times someone came up to my hand and asked for an autograph, then said “oh, I thought you were Ving Rhames”), but the second has been a true pleasure. I’m a pretty nondescript guy. If not for my cyst I’d be like every other 23-year-old Phillip-Seymour-Hoffman-with-a-welcome-mat-stapled-to-his-chest-and-back lookalike. Cashiers love me. I’ve fostered countless friendships over the line “please give me your card with your other hand so I don’t touch that”. It’s like a portable conversation piece, and if I wear gloves it looks like I’m trying to hide a gigantic diamond ring. It is truly a versatile little ball of viscous yellow fluid and fun.
I have to admit that I was unhappy with my cyst at first. It is very large and quite noticeable, not unlike having a purple, veiny boiled egg grafted to my finger. I say “boiled” because I don’t think anything will be hatching out of it soon, barring other cysts or maybe a sour, bright-red core like in an Everlasting Gobstopper. Not that I will be eating it (unless my girlfriend stops leaving her birth control on the desk and my potato chips are all the way across the room). The fact that it is so conspicuous led me to years of teasing. Phrases like “is that a cyst in your pocket or are you just a horrible disgusting monster” and “put your hand under the table or something, I’m eating” are forever burned into my brain.
I have come to accept – and even love – my cyst now, though. The benefits I listed above are just a few of the perks it offers. Since it is generally 10 to 15 degrees hotter than the rest of my body, I can use it as an instant palm warmer. When I am in a state of deep thought I can rest my arm on a table and chew on it, not unlike sucking on the supple breast of a beautiful muse. It is very good at sensing vibration, so I always know which shitty rap songs my neighbors are listening to, and if I ever get into boxing I essentially have a large, semisoft rock to cram into my glove before every fight.
And besides, what’s a tapioca-dot full of salty yellow motor oil in the face of friendship? I love my friends, but they have their problems, too. Besides the crippling alcoholism we all share (it’s like male bonding but we talk about alienating our children and being unable to hold down jobs instead of baseball scores), some of those guys are plum fucked up. The difference? You don’t see me yelling “hey, one-eye-lower-than-the-other” or “how’s it going, your-rosacea-makes-you-blush-like-a-fag” to my friends. Whatever.
But I’m not here to be bitter. I’m here to talk about the wondermarble protruding from an otherwise commonplace left hand. Taking pride in my cyst is taking pride in my heritage. To this day my dad has a huge (I’m talking golf-ball sized) lump sticking out of the front-left side of his forehead. He’s had it since I was a kid. In true father-son fashion his bump shows I’m not man enough to handle the family yet: If my cyst looks like a hornet sting, his looks like he hits himself in the head with a meat-tenderizing hammer every morning. We are an attractive group of hombres.
My cyst also gives me support and comfort in the face of other, more serious medical problems. This might surprise you coming from someone who spends 22 hours a day in front of a computer, but in general I am a very unhealthy person. This list is a brief outline of the other things that are wrong with me:
- Torso: To put it simply, I look like a beach ball. Unfortunately, I have never been to a clambake and nobody has ever slapped me back and forth across a net. I avoid wearing colorful shirts for fear that children will mistake me for a gigantic Christmas ornament and immediately attempt to shove me up their noses or hang me from a tree. On the plus side the various folds and ridges of my body strongly resemble a huge frowny face. If I’m ever stricken with bell’s palsy I’ll just need to remove my shirt to express displeasure.
- Head: I am prone to violent, explosive headaches, which appear without any sort of provocation or warning. These headaches are often accompanied by high-pressure nosebleeds, which are maybe the most goddamn inconvenient things I’ve ever had to deal with in my life. They are especially fun in public settings. There’s nothing like filling out a deposit slip or paying for dry cleaning when, all of a sudden, blood comes pouring out of my nose so quickly I’m afraid the pressure will vault me head-first into the ceiling, which could possibly give me a lump on my head like my old man’s. As a bonus I can only really quell the headaches by folding my arms over my head and pressing my palms into the top of my skull. Between that and the nosebleeds I strongly resemble a vampire bat when a headache strikes, which isn’t necessarily the effect I’m going for when I’m out paying rent or whatever.
- Legs: I am a nervous person. This is not because of any social issues. Instead, it is because my legs hate me. This is not a joke. Some people have weak knees and they fall down a lot – I have violent knees and I uncontrollably jump face-first into the ground a lot. Think of it as restless leg syndrome, but it also happens when I’m walking and I usually end up with road rash on my forehead. This is especially true in front of large groups of people. I cannot count the times I’ve skidded 15 or 20 feet down a theater aisle on my chin. If you kids think stumbling around like a drunken kangaroo is “cool”, see how much you like it when you’re picking popcorn kernels and chewed pieces of gum out of your eyeballs.
- Hair: This isn’t a medical condition so much as a physical deformity but it still sucks. I am covered in a coarse black hair that can only be described as “icky”. I’m glad covering yourself in glue and rolling around in a pile of pubic hair isn’t illegal, or I’d be on the lam. A wrongfully accused bear man, jumping from boxcar to boxcar, burning the hair from the bottom of his feet for warmth. This whole phenomenon makes my shower look like something out of Silent Hill, except instead of Pyramid Head rising out of the gunk and muck it’s usually Dorito crumbs and pizza sauce that dried before I could lick it off.
As you can see, a harmless little cyst is the least of my problems. When I can effectively braid my chest hair into dreadlocks and I plan my entire campus walking path around places with the softest grass, a little ball of sunshine over my knuckle is hardly an issue.
Other medical conditions aside I am proud to say I’m not the only person enamored with my cyst. This is where the GOLDEN SPECIAL award comes into play. As an SA reader you are undoubtedly familiar with Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka, a man who built an e-empire with nothing more than his entrepreneurial spirit and vast knowledge of poop jokes. Rich has first-hand experience with my cyst (I had dinner with him at Applebee’s once and the mere sight of it jerked him right the fuck out of flavortown, despite the bullshit claims the menu made), and his strange fascination with it has bolstered my confidence and my love of life.
Let me explain: My cyst has become a popular conversation topic on Lowtax’s Skype radio show. Let me put this in terms that really express the gravity of this situation: The giant, fleshy lump on my hand has become a favored topic on an Internet radio show, a program that has, in the past, featured discussions on cement-filled airplanes, alternative uses of gardening products, and the mysterious balls of flesh growing in Zachary “Spokker Jones” Guiterrez’s armpit. To be honest I feel bad even talking about it without listening to opera and taking in a fine Chardonnay.
To be honest I would have been happy keeping discussion of my cyst off the Internet. The SA Forums are a harsh place, and admitting you’re anything but a bronzed god (my nickname there is “Adonis Aristotle”) is a surefire way to exile. Lowtax had other ideas. My first appearance on the show went something like this:
Me: How’s it going, guys?
Lowtax: HOW ABOUT THAT CYST HOO-HA
Spokker Jones: TAINT HAIR ARMPIT BALLS VIDEO GAMES
Person outside my office window: Holy shit, what’s Ving Rhames doing having sex with that keyboard?
The taunting soon ended, though, and soon we carried on an intelligent, cultured conversation about the nature of my cyst. Lowtax shared his personal story, in which I showed it to him and he couldn’t finish his steak, and Spokker Jones chipped in with some dumb shit about DOA 4 or what Howard Stern’s ballbag smells like or whatever. Towards the end of our enlightened discourse Lowtax bragged about taking a shower with a woman (as if) and the show was off the air.
By the next show Lowtax was ready to give the cyst the treatment it deserved. After some chit-chat Lowtax said he had a special award for me. In the show’s illustrious three-program history he had only given it to “one other fag for some reason”. It was the GOLDEN SPECIAL. As the sound effect – a “radio voice” woman shouting “golden special” to elevator music – played, my chest swelled with so much pride I could only hope a mass of smaller, pride-filled cysts would emerge from the sea of black hair and doughy skin under my gravy-stained Pacers jersey.
Now that I’ve won such an illustrious award at a relatively young age, I don’t know what else there is to accomplish. I might not have gone to Harvard, and I might not have really impacted anyone’s life in a positive way, but by God I am a GOLDEN SPECIAL award winner. I’m so happy my head hurts. Pardon me while I plug my nostrils with my pus grenade.