We all have physical features, good or bad, that are unique and we subconsciously forget about from time to time. Some of them are visible, some of them are not.
I have a massive head, but most people don’t seem to notice until I try to wear a hat. Hats don’t fit me, despite their misleading ‘one size fits all’ claim. In high school my old man custom-made extra clips at the back of my school-issued cap because we were forced to wear them – much to the amusement of my friends. Even then it still left a big red ring around my head. That was back in 1997 so god knows how much bigger it is now.
I also have a dimple when I smile that is allegedly adorable, but being a heavily bearded man I haven’t seen it in years.
There’s one thing, though, that I often do forget about. It’s a birthmark on the right side of my neck, and it’s quite large. I’m not complaining, I’m aware of – and have also seen – people with far larger and more dominant birthmarks.
I’m also accepting of the fact that people will stare at it. Back when I worked in a restaurant I used to notice them all the time. I like to make eye contact with people when I talk to them and you can’t help but notice the repeated darting of the eyes between your neck and your own gaze when people catch a glimpse of it. Hell, it’s so subtle they might not even know they’re doing it, or at least they’re trying their damndest to avoid doing it on purpose. If anything it’s more funny than annoying.
What DID annoy me was when people would make the NOT FREAKING ORIGINAL joke of asking me if it was a hickey. It’s not as funny as you think, which shouldn’t be very funny in the first place. The girl would have to have a pretty weirdly shaped mouth and you’re making the joke for your own condescending amusement rather than to put me at ease with something I’m already comfortable with – so shut up.
Working in an office as opposed to in hospitality this happens far less frequently, although in an evolution of my role in a media organisation I’ve recently taken to interviewing people, and when doing so on the weekend I saw those darting eyes that I’d almost forgotten about. Someone had noticed my birthmark again. Given that I’m trying to restart this blog again with as many personal anecdotes as angry rants and my own poor attempts at humour I thought I’d address it in case you either a) know me and have always been too scared to ask or b) meet me in the future and wonder ‘WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?’
When I entered the world, I did so with my umbilical cord repeatedly wrapped around my neck. As you can no doubt tell, I’ve always been a pessimist.
Yes, that’s a pretty freaking dark joke but it’s ME so I’m allowed to make it.
Further to no doubt looking uncomfortable I also had a much bigger issue in that I wasn’t exactly breathing, and I needed to spend the first part of my life on an artificial respirator. Don’t worry, I don’t remember any of it. I mean my parents do and I’m sure it was pretty traumatic, but that’s their issue I guess. Anyway, I turned out fine – depending on who you ask.
So yes, while I remember none of it and I turned out alright-ish, the birthmark on my neck isn’t a hickey or sun damage but a constant reminder of something I don’t remember – that I could very well have not been here to write this.
I guess it should serve as a reminder of my own mortality and make me appreciative of every second I have on this earth – but like I said, most of the time I just forget about it. But if it takes one person repeatedly staring at me to make me appreciate life a little more from time to time then I guess it’s a small price to pay.