MSH Seeking Female for LTR (apply within)
A Short Story by Jeremy Benjamin
Written using the suggestion "Zit"
Originally featured on 01-14-2009
As part of our series "Bursting Into '09"

Extra. Ordinary. The words don’t look like they would really go together. Not with a space between them. When you separate them with a period, it doesn’t even make sense.

(note: these are not words that describe you — I’ll get to that part later)

Extra; it’s a word for when something exceeds your expectations. Like, extra credit homework assignments, or extra fresh gum. Then there’s the other meaning, extra as in someone who appears in a movie for just one second in a crowd, a face that’s of no significance to the movie’s plot. A nobody.

Ordinary; such a boring word. The kind of word you’d only use when describing something that is out of the ordinary, to make the contrast clear. Four syllables just to say it — it’s like making your tongue push a wheelbarrow up over a small hill. And for what? To point out that a thing is no different than it has been in the past, and is just like a thousand other things, a facsimile, with no surprises. A stupid word, really.

I could tell you why I chose the name Zit (not Zit Man. Just Zit. It drives me up a wall when people make that mistake — is Zit so hard to remember?), but I almost don’t want to spoil the mystery. My identity will become less sexy the more I explain it, I’m sure. Just don’t forget that I am an extraordinary person. There, I said it: you bring those two empty-tin-can words together and they don’t make sense, you bring them even closer together and they just don’t jive. But if you squash them so close together that they mash into the same word, now you’ve got a word, a bigger word, a word that means something else entirely.

(you already know that I’m paying for this by the word, which is why I have chosen to ramble; to get my money’s worth. How are you to know anything about me if my first impression is one of contrived brevity? Real people don’t advertise themselves, and even if they do, they sure as hell don’t do it concisely. Real people ramble. Or is this frivolity a ruse to hint to you that I’m wealthy…? I kid. I be funny sometimes. Humor is not my most notable quality, but on the average day I am responsible for thirty-four ha’s. Approximately. I kid again. I’ve never actually counted. More like twenty, probably.)

Extraordinary; worthy of notice. Characterized by abilities and/or accomplishments that will challenge your world-view. Its meaning is wide open; something or someone that is described as extraordinary could be virtually anything. Anything except boring. If you’ve read this far into my ad, then I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what M.S.H. stands for. If you read that last sentence and agreed with it, then you are lying to yourself (shame on you, potential romantic partner): you could not possibly know what it stands for, because I made up the initials myself. Yeah, it surprised me too that there’s no category for superheroes, so I had to invent one. Okay, maybe M.S.H. stands for some other obscure thing too, and you’ve got me confused.

Make no mistake, I am a superhero. And I’m not just looking for a girlfriend. I’m seeking something far deeper and more meaningful than that; I need an arch nemesis.

Perhaps I should be more specific. Now, I’m not one to list physical attributes in an ad — I hate the dickwads who do that, Wanted: brunette, 5’3” to 5’9”, slim, athletic, social drinker or non-drinker, college educated and all that crap. That’s not to say that I’m blind. Please be arrestingly gorgeous; I’ll leave that open to your interpretation. Now — and this is the last thing I will say on the subject of physical appearance — beauty is secondary. The more important requirement is this; however you appear today, you have to have had the experience of being ugly for at least six years of your life. And I mean six years consecutively. I’ll better explain that part over coffee, face to face.

I won’t tell you my weakness. And, of course, I’m not talking about emotional insecurities, like I have a guilty complex because I poked my brother’s eye out in a kickball game or crap like that, no, I’m talking about a very literal weakness. You will discover my kryptonite very early on in our relationship — women are intuitive about that kind of thing — but how and when you choose to wield it, that’s how I will judge your character. Better if you don’t mention your knowledge of it, but let it linger as an ever-present unspoken threat. And every once in a while, just vent and go crazy with it. If I start to eroticise the object of my blatant vulnerabilities, the psychosis will ultimately make me stronger and better able to protect the safety of my community.

Against you. (wait, that was me being funny again)

Seriously. Please don’t mistake my meaning: don’t be evil. There are many subtle forms of villainy — I trust you understand this better than I do. My unique abilities set me apart from other people. I want to hear about what sets you apart.

I suppose I’d be wasting my breath — and my monthly membership fee — if I didn’t tell you a little bit about myself. When I was twelve, a couple thugs cornered me after school one day by the basketball court. I had a fat red pimple on my forehead, right over my right eye, which was a funny spot…I say like there’s any spot on my face that would have been acceptable…but it really was an odd spot for a zit, somehow. Anyway, I was twelve, so it was kind of a big stupid deal. I was all self conscious, and Polly McBrewer, the chick who sat in front of me in algebra (she was the first girl in our class to get boobs, so she had authority), kept saying eww, pop that thing already. Seeing that I was unable to comply, the entire class turned their attention to me and erupted into a boisterous chant of pop that zit, pop that zit, POP THAT ZIT, POP THAT ZIT, POP THAT ZIT.

Mr. Cornblatter shut them up and resumed the lesson on factoring polynomials. As soon as the bell rang for the next period, I ran to the boys’ room and stood in front of the mirror, with the intention of squeezing that red tiny mountain of inflamed skin, oil, or whatever was in there, until it burst in a little puddle of white ooze. I even had a square of toilet paper in my hand, ready to catch it. But I couldn’t. I just stood there staring at my face in the mirror. I stood there so long, the entire next class was over before I even realized I was standing there. Ended up in detention for skipping.

Detention consisted of me, Paul Bonewrakker and Tony Flek. I won’t mention what those two were in detention for, but I’m pretty sure they’re both in prison today. Not that I keep tabs on people. Anyway, after detention, in the basketball court, Paul held me down while Tony pulled out his lighter and threatened to burn the zit off my face. I won’t bore you with the outcome of that afternoon’s events, but Zit just seemed like a fitting name for the masked crusader that I am.

I used to be ugly.

I honestly don’t remember much of what happened that day after Tony held the flame to my forehead. I remember waking up alone on the basketball court, feeling my face, and the zit being gone. Then I looked in the mirror, and there was no red spot, no scab- nothing. Tony was the one who showed up to school the next week with a burn scar. Go figure. I never asked him what happened, but they never bullied me again, so I was perfectly satisfied not to know the details. Something you should know about me; I’m not real curious. If results are agreeable, I’m done. I don’t feel compelled to know the inner-workings of an engine before I get in a car, and I don’t care to know how the laws of physics enable me to heat up a person’s skin to melting temperature just by looking at them, but I’ll tell you, it’s spared me a lot of bar fights. If you wind up to throw a punch, and before you can deliver, your fingers are sizzling hot and fused together like cheese on a burrito, you might change your mind.

Don’t worry, I’m in complete control. I know what you’re thinking; in the movies, it’s always in the throes of passion that the hero’s superpower affects casualties, like when someone’s making out with a vampire and fangs pop out. Trust me, it doesn’t work like that. Not saying it has an on-off switch, but I will say you have nothing to fear.

And in case you’re wondering, I don’t object to you popping my zits during sex. As a matter of fact, I insist on it. Reply with a picture if you’re interested.

Read More By Jeremy Benjamin

COPYRIGHT 2006-2011
Portland Fiction Project

Archives Archives