Dermatology by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois


by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

The Virgin Mary was special her whole life. The rabbi’s knew her fate from the start. The adoration started early. She was bred for saintliness and sadness, and that’s all there was to it.
Same for the Dalai Lama. He was worshipped by the Tibetan nation as a God from birth. What troubles did he ever face? Like a trust fund baby knows the hard knocks of life? He sits there in his saffron robes, his chicken arms sticking out and that little grin on his face, just stuffed with wisdom, like a baby’s stuffed with Cheerios. He’s a poser, that’s all there is to it. On the other hand, I’ve been through the wringer. I would make a better guru.

It began when I married a woman whose face was a mask of contorted flesh. Yet her eyes were the bluest and most compelling I’d ever seen. We sat on the floor in the hallway when we were supposed to be in history class and considered what our lives would be like together. I was taking amphetamines for depression. No one could see her for the first time without gasping and inwardly cursing her for daring to appear in public. Of course her university classmates got used to her, not that any of them would want to wake up with her and have her maligned face be the first thing they saw each morning. But somehow seeing her lightened my spirit, and it wasn’t just her eyes.

My psychiatrist told me that my skin diseases were illusory, arising sympathetically. I brought my wife to his office without letting him know she was coming and, when he opened the door to the waiting room to summon me, he gasped, then apologized profusely, until she finally had to tell him to shut up, stop apologizing.

She told him the name of her disease but it didn’t mean anything to him. He was a psychiatrist, not a dermatologist. He told me my skin diseases would persist until I had thoroughly analyzed why I had married this particular woman, when there were so many others I could have chosen.

I reminded him that my depression had stopped me from exploring options, that I’d felt worthless, and as marred inside my head as my wife was marred on the surface of her face.
My wife declared that he was a charlatan who lacked power, and gave me the medieval book, bound in iron, with a dozen prescriptions, based on God’s law.

But I have sixteen skin diseases, I protested.

No matter, she said. The other four are subsumed in the twelve.

I swallowed another amphetamine

Read it carefully, my wife instructed. Read it as if it were the Talmud or the Kabbalah, books with which my father, the rabbi, was intimately acquainted and which I had rejected out of hand. I grew up an atheist, in reaction against my father’s religiosity, but my wife reminded me that decisions made in childhood don’t have to control us our entire lives.

**** THE END ****
Copyright Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois 2015

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