October 02, 2002

"Wart of the Worlds" c.

"Wart of the Worlds" c. Ryan Rhodes, Sept. 30, 2002

When I was in elementary school, I forget which grade exactly, I had 32 individual warts on my left hand. You read that right. I had 32 individual warts on my left hand, all at one time. My left hand looked more like a miniature mountain range than a human appendage.

I won't lie to you, it was difficult to traverse the brutal cultural landscape of elementary school while sporting a left hand that looked fresh from a toxic waste accident. Even peers sporting childhood warts of their own were shocked at the sheer number of warty bumps decorating my hand.

It was my own fault, really. When my first wart sprouted in the direct center of my palm, just under the middle finger, I regarded it as a novelty that needed to be played with, and by played with I mean I jabbed at it repeatedly with a sewing needle. In my mind, I figured that, if I poked deeply and frequently enough, and drew a satisfactory amount of blood, the wart would simply surrender and leave my hand. It was this type of reasoning that ensured I would never, in any way, shape or form, enter the medical profession.

As it was, all my incessant jabbing and poking apparently just made the wart mad. It grew to astounding dimensions, so much so that I sometimes wondered if I was sprouting a new finger.

Eventually, I became aware of other warts springing forth from the base of Mt. Wartmore. In a few short months, entire communities of warts took hold on my tiny hand. No portion of fleshy hand real estate was spared. I had warts all over my palm, on my fingers, and even on the webbing at the base of each finger. In all, 32 warts called my hand home.

How do I know I had 32 warts? Because, one day during school, I took a black pen and put an X over each wart as I counted it, ensuring each wart would be counted once. If only the state of Florida had access to my state-of-the-art wart counting system, we never would have had the whole presidential election debacle of 2000.

I was actually more amused by my 32 warts than anything else. At that age, the wives' tale about toads peeing on you being responsible for warts was not so much a deterrent as it was an invitation to pick toads up and squeeze them. Therefore, I was actually somewhat proud of my warts for awhile.

It wasn't until we started our dance unit in gym that I realized girls did not want to hold hands with Warty McWarts-a-Lot. Suddenly, my hefty handful of warts didn't seem quite as cool. So, my mother bought me a product called Compound W in a belated attempt to combat my wart infestation.

Because covering 32 warts with Compound W would have been a Herculean task, and because coating them all on a regular basis with the expensive liquid would have surely put my family in bankruptcy, I opted to concentrate my efforts on the mother wart that started all the madness in the first place.

Slowly, very slowly, the great wart volcano in the center of my hand started to shrink, and it eventually disappeared all together. The rest of the warts, now without a larger-than-life leader, just kind of laid down their swords and vanished as well.

I remained wart free from elementary school on. . .until about two months ago. As I sat at my computer one night, I realized I had a strange bump on my right thumb. I inspected the yellowish bump and dismissed it as a callous, the result of repetitive tapping of the space bar.

As the callous became larger and more uncomfortable, however, I started to suspect the mother wart from all those years back may have migrated to my right thumb, intent on re-establishing her 32 wart empire.

Determined to settle my own personal argument as to whether the mound on my thumb was a callous or a wart, I consulted numerous medical Web sites until I found a picture of both. Imagine my surprise when I saw an exact replica of my thumb bump, apparently on someone else's hand! There could be no doubt about it. The mother wart had returned.

So, I went out and purchased a bottle of trusty Compound W, intent on doing battle with the mother wart before she could spawn 31 offspring.

As I unscrewed the cap and the familiar alcohol-heavy odor of the wart weapon wafted noseward, I knew I was going to win this war before it started.

And even if Compound W doesn't work, I think I have a sewing needle sitting around here someplace.

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