April 9, 2013

ROSEN: Embrace The Urge

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I love popping zits. Whiteheads, blackheads, zits on my face, zits on my back. When I feel the prickling of a pimple protruding I am elated. Picturing the pus, I palpitate with pleasure, relishing its arrival with all the eagerness of a child on Christmas morning.  If somebody else has a zit it is impossible for me to look them in the face without having the urge to approach them, arm outstretched and ready to squeeze the offending pustule between my thumb and index finger. My previous girlfriends have been forced to suffer at the hands of my odd inclination, my wandering fingers going not to unhook their bras but to burst blackheads from their back’s blemishes. It is, to be blunt, an addiction. One that I fully admit is any combination of odd, weird, gross, perverse and outright depraved. For whatever reason, I get a rush from this eruptive hobby, savoring each rupture and scavenging for more opportunities to satiate my addiction. The more secretion the better as I become particularly elated when a spurt is longer or bigger than expected. Perhaps it is a form of obsessive compulsion but I simply cannot help this act of expulsion.

I am not sure from which of Freud’s five stages of psychosexual development my predilection for excision emerges, but I can assure you that it is not limited to zits and pimples. When I was younger, this urge manifested itself in nose picking. My toddler self could rival any 49-er in his hunt for gold and the underbelly of my bed was caked with boogers like gum under a high school desk. Now, as an older and more mature picker, I am forced to be subtler with my gushing desires, needing to conform to views of human decency. Often, I am quietly disappointed when I Q-tip my ear without removing any cerumen and so I delay my swabbing to maximize the earwax. Scabs and dry skin are picked and peeled like clementines;  lint is uprooted with ecstatic zeal. Just last week, I felt the familiar tingling sensation while I dug deeper and deeper into my iPod’s headphone jack with a bent paperclip, pulling out dust and muck that had lodged itself there.

I feared I was alone in my habit, that if my friends only knew what sort of depraved individual they kept in their company they would surely expunge me from their lives like a particularly juicy cyst. But fortunately, we live in an increasingly interconnected age and some quick googling assured me that I was far from alone. I found countless forums and blogs of people gushing over their inexorable inclination to pop. I even found an entire section in the content aggregate site Reddit that was devoted to “popping.” There, users post videos and photos of particularly delicious discharges, delighting over each eruption and reveling in relished revulsion at what many people might consider vile and disgusting. While I will admit to watching a “popping” video every once in a while, with the same satisfaction and disgust that one might have for videos of car crashes and nut shots, there is something deeply unsatisfying about them. It felt like somebody else was playing a fun video game while I just had to watch silently. I don’t want to watch other people experience this visceral sensation because its not really a voyeuristic activity. This is a hobby that requires touch, feeling, anticipation and a climactic moment of euphoria. In short, it’s a weird inclination that’s my own, however knowing that there are others like me out there, who yearn to expel juices from the acne, makes me feel a little bit less like a weirdo.  I definitely still am — but so are you. You just haven’t written a column about your gross fetish.

Dan Rosen is a senior in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. He may be reached at drosen@cornellsun.com. Smell the Rosen ap­pears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: Dan Rosen