Friday, May 28, 2010

Flashback Friday: The Biggest Zit Ever

We are on the road in a major way, so here's some refried Flashback Friday for you. Originally published September 8, 2008.

This flashback takes us all the way to the early spring of 2004. Jeremy was finishing up his master's degree at the BYU, just a few months away from defending his thesis. I was working full-time and then some: full-time at a translation company in Provo, as well as teaching LSAT prep courses for the BYU in the evening and on Saturdays.

Meanwhile, in American Fork, where we lived, a new young couple moved into our church congregation. I can't remember their names, which is just as well since I would change them anyway. So we'll call them Jack and Jill.

It soon became apparent to me that this couple constituted the Anti-Jeremy-&-Bridget. I use "anti" not in the sense that they were against us, but rather that they were in many ways our opposites. Like the Anti-Lebanon mountain range that divides Lebanon from Syria: on the one side of some great socio-cultural divide there was us; on the other, there was them. Jack was studying something very business-like and salary-oriented; Jeremy was getting a master's in language acquisition. Jill was studying science. I hate science. They were quickly embraced by the congregation and openly loved by just about everyone who met them, even briefly. I think Jeremy and I were only appreciated by those who really knew us, and we often kept to ourselves (more from shyness and busyness than snobbery, but it probably didn't come across that way).

Back to March 2004. Work was insanely busy for me, but I foresaw a brief reprieve at the end of the week. Jeremy and I seized the opportunity and planned a one-night camping trip to Moab in southern Utah. There was one slight problem, however: we didn't have a car.

Our beloved mid-90s Toyota Tercel, affectionately pronounced "TER-cel" and described accurately as being essentially a go-kart with a roof, had been totalled in a rear-end collision just two weeks before.
We were riding our bikes to the bus stop in AF and then riding the 811 in to Provo to get to school and work, which actually worked out pretty well.

In order to go camping, we needed to borrow a car. And somehow, that car ended up being Jeremy's grandpa's old (well, of course old, because I don't think they make them anymore, for good reason) El Camino. So early on a Friday afternoon, Jeremy pulled up outside my work in a dingy brown El Camino, its truck bed packed to the brim with camping gear and our bikes. Classy! And we were off to Moab.

If we looked like white trash, we certainly felt like it, too. Most of our camping gear was second-hand or borrowed, and our bikes were nothing special, either. In fact, so trashy were we, that when our ghetto yellow foam camping pad held together with pieces of wire blew out of the truck bed on the highway, we actually stopped and went back to retrieve it.

We spent the afternoon hiking and then set off to find a place to camp. Our sister-in-law used to work in the Moab area and she gave us some brief directions to a good place. However, we drove for forever in increasing hunger and dark and found nothing but a potash processing factory. Not a welcome sight when you're hoping for a place to sleep. So we doubled back and found a small campground just off the road and called it good. We slept under the stars in - you guessed it - the bed of the El Camino.

"We slept" should perhaps be changed to "I slept," because Jeremy really didn't. Spring comes earlier to southern Utah, and so Jeremy's allergies descended on him all at once during the night. When we woke up, his eyes were swollen and puffy and his nose was stuffed up. Still, we broke camp and headed back toward town to find a mountain biking trail map.

We showed up at the visitor's center looking tired and bedraggled in our dirty El Camino. We hadn't showered or changed clothing since hiking the day before and Jeremy's allergic sufferings just made us look even more pitiful. For some reason, we hesitated in the car for a few minutes before heading inside, and Jeremy chanced a glance at his face in the rearview mirror. That's when he saw the biggest zit ever, sitting right on the side of his nose.

What could he do but pop it? What would you do in that situation (be honest)? Everything about us at that moment was hideously ugly and here was a chance to at least fix something. So he popped it. But before he had time to wipe away the guts of the zit, which were substantial in size, who should show up, peeking through the open driver's side window, but Jack and Jill. They were wearing hip mountain biking clothes and had just emerged, clean, fresh, rested, and showered, from their newish Outback.

I really don't know how they recognized us in our present state. Maybe they just assumed we were the kind of people who would take a trip to Moab in an El Camino. In any case, they saw us and weren't too ashamed to acknowledge our acquaintance and say hi at a time when Jeremy had popped-zit guts all over the side of his nose. The good news was that it was the side of his nose they couldn't see; the bad news was that this meant he couldn't turn his head.

So we carried on an extremely awkward conversation with Jeremy's head facing straight ahead even though Jack and Jill were to his side. I was trying so hard not to bust up laughing from sheer embarrassment. They probably wondered what the heck was Jeremy's problem that he couldn't face them to talk to them. And also why we looked so very, very disheveled and terrible. Not to mention what the deal was with the hud-filled El Camino.

In any case, they gave us some good biking trail recommendations and then said goodbye and walked their perky selves into the visitor's center.

And then, after wiping his face, of course, Jeremy and I laughed and laughed and laughed, and we still laugh about this event often, to this day. Jack and Jill moved away shortly after, and so we never even had to deal with the potentially humiliating experience of seeing them at church ever again. That's a nice ending, isn't it? "And we never saw them again." I'll take it!


Jake and Becky Veigel Family said...

Hilarious. I love that other people were ghetto when they were in college and young marrieds. We were definitely white trash compared to a lot of other people in our student ward! I look back and wonder how we survived we were so poor, but isn't it great that you can still have fun and laugh about it? B

Crys said...

Jason and I both remembered this story from it's original posting...I guess you could say it was memorable :)

Matthew said...

Hmmmm, I think you might be deliberately misunderestimating your baseline level of coolness for narrative effect. I judge this to be forgivable on the basis of being aptly done and amusing =)

Bridget said...

Matthew, no way! It is a fact that these people drove an Outback and were showered and rested and dressed in a hip manner. We were in an El Camino and were none of the above. You can't fake that kind of social awkwardness.


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