Serving Whitman County since 1877

Bruce Cameron

Editor’s Note: The following column was originally published in 2010.

My face is a work in progress. Having grown an appropriate number of eyes, lips and noses, I’m now busily at work drawing lines to connect them all together.

I’m also fond of developing what my dermatologist calls “squeamish basil cells.” (This may not be the precise medical term.) It seems there are places on my face that are considered bad neighborhoods, where tough cells hang out and frighten away healthy skin. To combat this blight, my doctor wants to use a technique known as “expensive.”

“I’m going to use a laser to burn away the outer layer of your bank account,” she explains. Apparently, the basil street-gang members will be so incensed by the laser they will move to someone else’s face. “Plus,” my dermatologist says seductively, “there will be sizeable cosmetic benefits, as well.”

My dermatologist looks like a supermodel — she would be seductive describing toe fungus. In this case, though, what she means is that the laser would remove the skin on my face, revealing a whole new face underneath, like maybe Brad Pitt’s.

“Good idea,” I respond. Yes, that’s right, I’m the kind of person who hears that his entire face is going to be burned off and thinks it is a good idea. It’s fortunate I wasn’t around when they tested the first atomic bomb.

Dr. Oppenheimer: We need you to stand next to the A-bomb and see what happens when it explodes.

Me: Sounds great!

The first step in the face-removal treatment is to use chemicals to bathe my skin in pain. “We want to make sure your epidermis is free of any oils, dirt or comfort,” my dermatologist explains seductively. She uses liquid sandpaper and then a wash made from the stomach acid of a goat — at least, that’s what it feels like. My face sends a text message to my brain demanding to know what the hell we’re doing. Is this even safe?

“You’ve done a lot of these, right?” I ask worriedly.

“Hundreds,” my dermatologist assures seductively. “Though usually there’s not all the weeping.”

Next she has me sit and stick my head inside what looks like a dorm-room refrigerator. “Am I on Punk’d?” I ask.

“Of course not,” she replies seductively.

The treatment itself is not all that special: You sit with your head inside the refrigerator, which comes alive with a million watts of light, while people sneak up behind you and take pictures of you looking so stupid. (This is why the procedure is sometimes called a “photo-facial.”)

Afterward, my doctor seductively gives me a list of things to do. For the next week, I’m not allowed to be in the sunlight, and I have to sleep in a wooden box lined with dirt from Transylvania. When I do go outside, I must wear a big, floppy hat so that people will think I’m a flying nun. Also, I’m given several tubes of white gunk to smear on my skin so that I resemble a spackling project gone bad.

Over the next week, my face will gradually peel off: I just have to hope that friends don’t find my molting revolting. Once I’ve discarded my face like a rattlesnake shedding its skin, a new, healthier, more attractive man will emerge, and Angelina and I will adopt more kids.

At first my skin is red and painful, but gradually it becomes peeling and painful. Two weeks after the procedure, I look like my cheeks are covered with chicken feathers. When I run out of business cards I just write my phone number on sheets of my face.

Alas, under all this Bruce Cameron there is nothing except more Bruce Cameron. I can’t even tell whether I’m rid of the basil and bay leaves — the dark spots on my face are still there, though I don’t see any gangsters hanging out in front of liquor stores, so maybe shedding light so that I might shed skin has actually improved things.

My doctor seductively informs me that perhaps I should have thermage — an even more expensive procedure where the face is blasted with high-frequency radio waves.

I tell her it’s a good idea.

(Bruce Cameron has a website at



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