Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Freckle Devil

FYI: I haven’t felt represented by a president in the oval office since John F. Kennedy. There I’ve said it. It’s out there. Alienated, ignored, marginalized and discriminated against, that’s how I’ve felt for decades, and my feelings are bigger than the head of the Statue of Liberty and therefore really, really big—also important.

Even my husband has been part of the problem. He looked at me the other day and said, “Hey! You have a lot of freckles. Have you always had that many freckles?”

We’ve been married for almost forty years. Who’s he been looking at?

“Yes, Dear. I have a lot of freckles, just like that actress that played Carrie in that horror movie where they made fun of the freckled girl and she crushed, stabbed, and burned them all to death with HER MIND.”

Yeah. Her. The freckled chick.

President Kennedy had freckles, red hair, and a permanent sunburn. He was my president. He made it okay to be a skinny white girl with freckles . . . but then the sixties happened and all the hippies got naked and tans without tan lines, and I was OUT. So for thirty years I’ve learned to live with the stigma of being really, really white except for the freckled bits.

Sure, every once in a while the fashion industry throws up a billboard with somebody sporting some serious freckle action, but it’s a token tribute, probably to keep us from crushing, stabbing, and burning them to death with OUR MINDS. 

In the Middle Ages, spots, marks, moles, or birthmarks were proof that the devil had been making out with you in the middle of the night, and then they drowned you in a barrel. It’s a miracle any of us survived to pass on the genes that cause freckles.

But here we are! Fact. No babies are born with freckles. It takes time and light to discover who the freckly ones are, and then it’s too late. By the time you figure it out they’re big enough to bite you if you don’t feed them. So, we’re here to stay. And President Kennedy made it possible to believe that even someone with freckles and a billionaire family can become president of the United States.

Being a woman of freckles has made me sensitive to the endless slights about how blindingly white my legs are or how many freckles I’ve acquired over the years. It’s been a rough road overcoming the feeling that I might like to crush, stab, and burn a gymnasium full of bullies to death WITH MY MIND. But I’ve squashed that feeling like a slug in my garden because I’ve also learned that feelings are like blood: gushy, messy, and designed to stay inside.

Linda (Freckle Devil) Zern

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