Background

Background (n) the circumstances or situation prevailing at a particular time or underlying a particular event.

“What’s your background?”Dictionary B

A very popular question.

I learned many years ago to dodge all inquiries which attempt to squeeze me into a favorable box.

Once people discover the roots of my nationality, the place of my birth, my chosen occupation and even my favorite color, for some reason, these nosy neighbors determine that they know enough about me to converse with me–or even market a product–in my direction.

I believe this is why we’re so juiced up on the idea of cultures and customs. Because once we determine that somebody is from Jamaica, then we are most assuredly confident that they must love reggae music.

So how difficult is it to be a rock and roll advocate and live in Jamaica?

How absolutely frustrating must it be to live in Wisconsin and have never eaten cheese?

Can you actually dwell in Iowa or Nebraska without having a running dialogue on raising corn?

The thing that makes us most uninteresting is the thing that we seem to pursue with great fervor.

“Let me shrink who you are so that who you are will fit into what I need you to be.”

So even as I watch the phenomenon of the gay community gaining credence in our society, television insists that all gay people speak with a lisp, love theater, cry at the drop of a hat and are basically snarky.

So what are we really achieving when we claim to be accepting of people–but we’re really only accepting of people when they arrive in large, definable clumps?

I will not tell you my background.

What I will share is my present footing and what I dream to be my foreground.

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

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Acne

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Acne: (n.) the occurrence of inflamed or infected sebaceous glands in the skin, characterized by red pimples, usually on the face, prevalent among teenagers.

There are so many things about acne that come to my mind that I barely know where to start.

I was not one of those people who had tremendous amounts of the skin infestation. There were people in my class in high school who appeared to have a face of acne, with occasional interruptions of real skin.

This was not me.

My face broke out around my chin and sometimes in my lip area, which was frightening enough in itself.

Somewhere around my fifteenth birthday, I became convinced that my lips were huge. Matter of fact, I would occasionally purse them when I was around young women for fear that they might think I had some Afrikaan in my ancestry. Not only was that thought bigoted, but also ridiculous when you saw my parents, who made the Pillsbury Dough Boy look like he had just come back from Jamaica.

But the thing about acne is, in a self-conscious era, an even more obvious and visible affliction is placed on you. For those who wonder if God is cruel or just has a bizarre sense of humor, the gift of acne to adolescents is an excellent example.

As a teenager, you have a self-consciousness which teeters on suicidal to begin with, and to be given a red rash all over your face, to accentuate your lack of attractiveness, might be the definition of cruel and unusual.

It didn’t help to be around adults. Adults fell into one of three categories:

1. Understanding. Now, this may sound promising, but to hear someone say “you’ll outgrow it” is like the Mama Alligator telling her young offspring that his tail will grow back after the truck ran over it and severed it. It may be true, but it’s not very comforting.

2. Remedy people. These are the adults who are positive they have the perfect solution to get rid of your acne. And it always has something to do with a medication that burns or smells like crap. Oh, and then when you smear it on your face and it actually makes the acne MORE noticeable.

3. Then there’s the third group, which was inhabited by my mother. These are the people who warn you that if you pick at your acne, especially in the area of your chin and nose, that you are in the part of the face which she referred to as “the fatal triangle,” and that you could infect yourself, send poison to your brain and die within minutes.

So as you can see, there is no hope for those who are young and afflicted by Job’s cankerous sores.

I guess the truth is, you do mostly outgrow it, even though every once in a while, I will sprout a pimple, even at my age. It does not make me feel young.

It just brings back memories … of “the fatal triangle.”