Dearest friend I write to you with haste for I do not want too much time to pass, I do not know how much time I have left on this Earth. My foolishness, my carelessness has brought me here. Raw ignorance has been my wings. Last night as I walked through the faded moonlight, a blowing swirl of leaves my unbecoming halo, I thought of our time together. Time slows down and the world pulsates with life when you know it won’t be around for long. My not being part of this world is as good as the world not being, for me. I saw a bird land on the sidewalk. It fluttered to a stop and I thought that it looked right at me, through me, as it pooped softly on the ground. I knew it was telling me to tell my story. That is why I write you this.
I am sorry for not removing my blackheads. I ignored your numerous warnings, the several times you came home with arms full of strips and scrubs and pumice stones. I’m sorry for the time I locked myself in my bathroom as you pounded on the door. You screamed about how we needed to talk about this now. I’m sorry for ignoring the weight and time of the universe itself ticking slowly to its conclusion. I’m sorry for ignoring the signs. I’m so sorry I did not remove my blackheads. I’m sorry for my ignorance.
It may be too late to repent. I close my eyes and think of God and if He will still accept me. In vain or because of years of conditioning, I still capitalise His name. It is too late for salvation, it is too late for God. It is too late for me.
Tonight, as I gaze out of my window and see the world in four faded squares, the world in four discontinuous fragments, I think back to the good old days. I remember the first time that it happened. You were home and we were watching a boxing match. It was women’s boxing, a sport that we watched only to see if we could conclusively not get turned on by the grunting sounds that women make in effort. You went out to get popcorn, a food for real men enjoying something men could enjoy with our firm calloused hands. Eating corn that has been so tempered, been through so much duress that it was forced to evolve, to become something better. To burst out of its hard shell and lay itself exposed and bare. I am corn, I was a tough shell, but life has forced me to show everyone who I am inside. Tender and white and fragile and vulnerable. We were popcorn men.
You came back and sat, this was months ago now. Your kind expression changed to concern as you drew close to me and you stared in the centre of my face. “You have blackheads” you whispered to me slowly. I laughed and waved you off. I was a man. A real man. Real men have no concerns for small things that grow on their nose. Real men have no fear. I really wish now all these months later, that real men also had no regrets. But that isn’t true. Real men are full of regret.
You repeatedly told me about my blackheads. You told me to get help. I didn’t know that I needed help. I was a kernel of corn thick and impenetrable. Why didn’t I pop? I guess I am popping now, this is my letter to you, this is my apology to you. I am a corn that is popped, white and salted with tears for you now. You called my family and my friends about my blackheads but I didn’t think I had a problem. Who cares about little spots on your nose? What inconvenience can they be? How come if blackheads are such an issue I had never noticed blackheads on anyone else?
I used this rhetoric to pacify my inner tumultuous insecurity. Because inside, deep inside I knew that I could not give up my blackheads. I was weak. I had seen the strips and the scrubs. I had heard the cries of pain from people, the mangled remains of strips, the redness of their nose, the weak teary face later when they said how happy they were that their blackheads were no more. I realised that I couldn’t go through that. I was afraid. Real men had no fear. I couldn’t face it. I would live out my life and somehow hope against hope that my problems would all fix themselves somehow.
I went to the doctor this morning, complaining of a simple itchiness of the nose. Maybe it’s a mosquito that bit me or something? That’s what I said to him. The doctors face, lined with age and experience, deep crevasses of knowledge, grew stone cold. He put on gloves and a mask and pulled me close to a mirror. He showed me for the first time what I had failed to see my whole life. He showed me what I was trying to hide from my self, the blind spot in the centre of my face. My cruelest self inflicted joke. A mass of blackheads.
The doctor told me I had stage four incurable blackheads. I asked him how long I had left, and he asked me to lie down. It would be a miracle if I made it out of the door, he said. But I am not so weak, not anymore. I walked around and got my last glimpse of life. Then I realised I had to reach out to the person who had tried to help me the most, the person I had shut out. You.
I hope you accept my apology, I hope you excuse my callous and unredeemable behaviour as the failings of a weak man, a cowardly man. I hope you forgive me. I have been sitting on the pier for many hours now. I have bought a black head removal strip. I know it’s too late, but I am not a real man. I have flaws, I am scared. I am a corn which has popped.
The sun is coming up. I don’t have fear any more.
I have hope.
P.S. Dear reader if you know something that I should apologise for, please let me know here. I have a tremendous backlog, but I will get to it.