lettuce - Column for 9/8

Ask Skin Care Samurai

Your Defender Of Good Skin

This week: Too much Aloe

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Dear Skin Care Samurai,

When I was in Jr. High School, my skin got dry, not oily like the rest of my peers. Then, I found simply washing morning and night with an aloe wash was just what I needed to keep acne and blemishes at bay. But now, decades later, Iím getting zits Ė but when I use aloe, my face feels as slimy as the Exxon Valdez. But without, itís more like Death Valley. What happened? Did I build up a tolerance? Am I addicted to aloe?

Kathie in Austin, TX

Dear Kathie,

Itís not uncommon for skin to grow accustomed to certain treatments, and for those treatments to become less effective over time because of it. You were very lucky to avoid the blemishes of the teen years, and some of that is the aloe and some of that is just your naturally good pores...

Good pores. Good... pores...

...I ...I am adrift. I think. I feel the rain on my head, in my ears, in my eyes, but I donít think. I am confused. Is it smoke? An idea? Are those city walls before me?

Why am I in the places Iíve been. Why did I choose in this quicksand to fall?

I hear a gasp but see nothing. It is the spark of a dream, nothing more, but more. Words donít work. A face is before me. My mother? My uncle? No -- a long-ago lover, underneath a citrus tree, in a richly scented grove, reading of unwritten books starring her, and me, and our unborn child, unloved, unknown.


She stands from the tree, taller than I remember, silken legs outlined against the calico dress. She reaches an alabaster arm, and I bow, fall to my knees, tears streaming, eyes burning.

PAIN! Pain, I am covered in. I reach to her, but sheís gone, the grove, the orchard, the season ended. The ground trembles as skyscrapers burst, dead soil falling from their spires, lost roots tumbling to the ground below. I watch the withered grass retract, asphalt taking its place, filling the Earth and killing the Earth as the concrete and steel and blacked-glass of the towers blot out the sun, but not the heat. The harsh and mean heat. The city, once fled, returns.

My lover is there, but her eyes hold no love. Not love, but determination. She looks through me, beyond me, towards a door. Iím motioned to the building, but I canít go. There are answers there, answers that I shouldnít seek, yet always have. She knows the owners, she wrote the pages I dare not read. They lie inside. And to there I go.

The lobby is quiet and gray. Plush furniture lines the walls Ė walls that fall back to reveal a wooden desk. The groves we sat under are not dead, they are merely entombed in the shape of this desk, and the stacks of papers upon, behind, sating the bookshelves. They weep, silently, they warn consciously. I once knew less wisdom than now. I know not to accept these documents.

So I run, from the building. My lover, now a man, strides after me, his/her one step for each of my two, my five, my ten. Always gaining, the footmarks louder.

Outside, the city has changed. A sea has risen, obsidian waves, froth topped crash over the skyscrapers. We are in a hole, the rage of the ocean held back only by the muscled buildings, and barely so. Two giants in battle. Tsunamis pour over the buildings, and I am soaked. I taste the salt, like blood. My lover is gone. I hear weeping from the towers, people inside fearing the waves, drowning, dying. I canít help them. I am only running.

Running. Running from the real. From retribution. From redemption. From the pain and light and freedom. Iím here! Iím here! Iím here.

I was here.

... so just remember this simple rule. ďDonít pop, donít pick, donít play with the pus, or youíll have more pockmarks than Edward James Olmos.Ē I guarantee!

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Got a question for Skin Care Samurai? Send 'em to lettuce@lettuce.org. Or tattoo them on your body, seduce Skin Care Samurai, and wait for him to read it against the soft neon light, bleeding into the Interstate motel.

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