Buff Puff

I buff puffed my face into a glassy beacon while in St. Petersburg at the end of a summer. Mom and I made a temporary move into the guest room of a family friend’s home, where we each had our own twin beds and access to nearly every National Geographic that had been printed up to that point. 1988 maybe. Or ’89.

I was at that weird stage in life where I was figuring out my body and what it felt like to touch it, imagining someone else touching it, but also still obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I’m pretty sure Michelangelo worked his way into my fantasies, but that story can go sit quietly somewhere else for the time being.

I was not at all a woman, but my body was leaving clues. And acne.

I watched enough television at the time to be an absolute expert on how to fight acne. Exfoliation was key and had no end. Shaking a little Sea Breeze onto to your raw skin was a solid final touch.

I buffed and I puffed myself into oblivion. I thought I had a healthy shine, but my cheeks looked like ripe Pink Ladies, ready to be picked.

It was a daily chore – hourly if I could get away with it.

Buff, puff, astringent.

Buff, puff, astringent.

Once, I was sitting on the toilet, multi-tasking, and the Sea Breeze bottle, which was balancing on my knee, fell into my lap and felt like a thousand cold knives all over my secret, newly fascinating parts.

I remember screaming and crying and that having to reach to unlock the door let the astringent seep into places that had been spared.

The youngest daughter of mom’s friend, the cool one, ran a bath for me and promised not to tell. I don’t remember having any other conversations with her, except for having to explain why she’d found me in her room one time.

Of course I lied, but again, that’s another story for another time.

No one ever did ask about my shining face, and I don’t remember when I finally stopped or how. And honestly, my obsession is still here, but I don’t watch as much television now.


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