Monday, January 4, 2010

The Fleeting Freckles

"Hey freckle farm!" Nothing haunts me and brings me back to 6th grade like those words. This insult was hurled at me by a young man of thirteen years with several moles on his face. I just looked at the bully dumbfounded and speechless. After the fact, I thought of some clever retorts such as "Shut up mole hill face!" But, I was in such a state of complete surprise I couldn't think of a witty reply (or any reply at all). I just continued to sit there with my jaw dropped as I let the insult sink in.

But, he was right. I was a freckle farm. And I hated it!

I was one of those kids with freckles. And when you are a kid with freckles people say things to you. The dental hygienist says things like "Oh look! Freckles! How cute. My granddaughter has freckles!" People make comments to your mother in the grocery store about her freckle-faced child. Grandpas ask you if they can play "connect the dots" with your freckles. Aunts tease you in the summer when your freckles reveal themselves in full bloom. I always won their annual summer "freckle contest" by having the most freckles. They would say things like "Oh look! Here comes the freckle contest winner."

Well, I wasn't enjoying my freckles. I felt like they made me a spotted person. Who wants to have spots? Maybe some breeds of dogs don't mind, but humans don't generally pick out spots to punctuate their face. There is no medical procedure that I'm aware of that gives people freckles. There are no special creams that make ones skin appear more freckley. Therefore, I never saw my freckles as a coveted trait. Rather they were an aesthetic liability as far as I was concerned.

But somehow I managed to survive the trauma of being a freckle-faced child. And as an adult, my freckles have faded and they only reveal themselves after being on a vacation, near the equator, for a month, and that only occurs rarely. However, that kind of happened during the heatwave in the summer. I went over to a friend's house and he commented that I was looking "awfully freckely." And I beamed because no one has commented on my freckles in years.

I have this odd sense of loss. I miss them. I miss the unwanted attention one gets when they have freckles. I wish people would stop me in the grocery store to say "I love your freckles!" But they don't. Because I am not a kid with freckles anymore. The freckles have faded. Instead, I'm just another faceless person in the hustle and bustle.

So, let me employ the old cliche "You don't miss it until it's gone." Well, the same can be said for freckles, you don't miss them until they're gone.


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