I woke up the other morning with a growth on my nose roughly the size of Bolivia.

The good news about this growth is that, since it was on the side of my nose, I could hide most of it by wearing my glasses.

The bad news is that the growth hurt when I wore my glasses, so I had to make a decision - hide the hideous growth and suffer, or walk around pain-free and have everyone stare at my nose. The other alternative was to cover my face and walk around like one of Michael Jackson's kids.

I went with the glasses.

My particular growth was one of those weird zit-like things that just appear out of nowhere, usually right before something important like a prom, a wedding or a State of the Union address.

The medical profession has no idea where these growths come from, why they appear or where they go when they leave.

The only thing that is known about them is that they appear to like the face area.

Rarely do they pop up on an ankle or a shoulder. They prefer instead places where other people can't help but see them.

Unless you're someone like Janice Pearson, the prettiest girl in my sixth grade class, you know what it's like to talk to people when you have a large growth sticking out of your face.

Most people, because they are kind and caring, try very hard to avoid looking at the growth or otherwise draw attention to your misfortune.

Unfortunately, most people aren't your friends.

Your friends mainly say supportive things like, "Geez Bob, what did you do, glue a frog to your nose?" or "That thing on your chin looks like a big toe."

Almost as bad as your friends are those people who try to completely avoid looking at your growth. You can tell these people because they will look you directly in the eyes (unless, of course, the growth is near your eyes), but as they stare, you will always notice that their eyes kind of wander around your face until they land on the growth. They will stare at your growth for a couple of seconds and then, realizing what they're doing, force themselves to stop and come back to your eyes.

You wind up feeling like Dolly Parton must feel like when she talks to any male over the age of 10.

It makes you wonder what Aaron Neville must feel like. Neville, of course, is the fine singer and a member of the famous Neville Brothers. He also has a growth over his right eye that has actually been sold as a time-share.

I would not be a good person to meet Aaron Neville.

Neville: Hi, I'm Aaron Neville.

Me: (Not looking at his eye) Hi how's it goiter ... I mean going?

I don't mean to make fun of Mr. Neville - I mean, look at the size of him - it's just that you would think that a guy with his money would have that thing removed. How much dynamite could it take?

Even our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln (or as he was better known, "The King of Pop"), had a growth on his face that would occasionally become a distraction.

Abe: Four score and seven years ago, our ...

Guy in audience: What did he say?

Other guy: I don't know, I was looking at that thing on his face. What is it?

Abe: A new nation conceived ...

First Guy: I don't know, it looks like a hoop skirt.

Second Guy: No, I think it's a cherry tree.

First Guy: That's Washington.

Second Guy: Oh, right.

By the way, Janice Pearson, if you're reading this now, I want you to know that I'm way cooler than I was in sixth grade. If you're ever in the area, stop by the newsroom and say hi.

I'll be wearing glasses.

Address correspondence to Mike Pound, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, Mo. 64802.

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