by Norman Levine
how much skin we have. How would they know this? Somebody must have weighed
themselves and subtracted their bones, cartilage and other organs. Now
that I think of it, skin is my favorite organ. Of course, Ive never
met my spleen, pancreas or kidneys (and I hope never to have that pleasure),
but my skin has endured the slings and arrows of eighty-nine years with
hardly a register of complaint. Thats a lot to ask from a pile of
protein and minerals.
Skin starts out soft as a marshmallow meringue and ends up as flaky as
apple strudel. Bags and jowls, flab and scowls it has put up with me.
Weve grown emotionally attached. Id know it anywhere. It may
be a mess but its my mess. When it is exhausted it has enough good
sense to slough off and grow its replacement. I have to love it for that
alone. Skin is a map of my journey. While our innards, even our eyes,
stop growing around age twenty, skin manages to elasticize and wrap itself
around my entire body, creases and folds, twists and bends on demand,
far beyond its infantile imaginings. True it is only skin deep but thats
I should apologize to my skin before its too late. It has endured
those childhood eruptions from mumps to pox to say nothing of adolescent
zits. It doesnt seem fair that skin had to receive the insults of
errant diaper pins and scraped knees which I wore emblematic of athletic
glory. Along with this were the occasional slaps and whacks. Skin also
had to wear the inner abuse of nasty organisms, raging hormones and ultimately
a network of varicosity. And then there was my ignorant solar-worship
when we didnt know what evil lurks in the heart of the sun.
My only incisions occurred on my left arm resulting in a twelve-inch scar
from a knife-happy surgeon looking for a pinched nerve that never existed
but probably paid off his Lexus. Sorry skin. Ill try to make it
up to you but I cant imagine how.
When skin has something to say it itches and waits for an answering scratch.
Fair enough. If certain areas on my back call out for obliging finger
nails it could cause trouble. Considering my back as a map of the United
States, Missouri and Oklahoma (red states) are nearly unreachable unlike
Maine and Washington (Blue states). Im just saying.
Skin also lets itself be heard with pins and needles or goose-bumps. When
it throws a hissy-fit we call it a rash. Go ahead skin youre entitled
to your platform for all youve had to put up with.
I try not to abuse my skin. Im not a hand-wringer. I dont
crack my knuckles or furrow my brow as far as Im aware. I can only
hope smiles and wonderment are less taxing that frowns and sneers, snarks
or smirks. Just to demonstrate that I have my skin in the game I promise
never to enter a monastery and self-flagellate. Nor will I tattoo myself
into a billboard however noble or endearing the message, not to an inch
of my twenty-two feet.