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Thanks, Rowdy

August 14, 2013
This post may not be for squeamish.


The children I grew up with were not always kind, especially when their attention fell on short chubby kids like me who talked too much. Making matters worse, I had a peculiarity that prompted additional ridicule, a birthmark on my upper lip. When I was a kid, one of the popular Smith twins across the street commented that my birthmark reminded her of the one on Marilyn Monroe’s cheek. Her comment was overheard and before long everyone was calling me Marilyn, even my best friend Ricky Delgado.


Being short and chubby weren’t things easily changed, but after months of being tormented with the “Marilyn” moniker I decided to do whatever was necessary to eliminate my birthmark. One night I crept out of my room, borrowed my mother’s hand mirror from the bathroom and grabbed a needle from her sewing basket. I was resolved to scrape that damn thing off my face. I know what you’re thinking, but stupidity figures prominently in the cocktail that is adolescence and I was arguably stupider than most.


I had no idea it would hurt as much as it did, but I kept digging and poking with that needle until blood poured from my face. Eventually, the birthmark came off, leaving a wound that looked like I’d been shot in the face with a BB gun.


As you might imagine, my parents were not happy when they saw the red crater on my upper lip, but my mother went to DEFCON #1. “What in God’s name did you do to yourself?”


“I decided I didn’t want a birthmark anymore.”


She was livid. “So you decided to mutilate yourself?”


“It’s MY face,” I said. “I should be able to do what I want with it.”


“I’ll have you know that your birthmark is a family trait! MY father had a birthmark just like yours.”


My mother’s father died when she was nine and photos didn’t show any visible birthmarks, not that it would have made a difference. Besides, how could it be a family trait if she didn’t have one, and neither did my older brother?


I can’t recall what my punishment was, but I remember the terrible sting of Mercurochrome as my mother painted it on to prevent infection. The greatest punishment of all was when the birthmark grew back—bigger and darker.


I was about to give up on the world being a fair place when Ricky Delgado told me about a new TV western called Rawhide. “There’s this one cool guy named Rowdy Yates,” Ricky explained. “He has one of those things on his lip just like yours, in the same spot as a matter of fact.”


I think Ricky felt guilty for having joined my tormentors and this was his way of making it up to me. I checked out Rawhide and had to admit that Rowdy Yates, played by Clint Eastwood, was pretty darn cool. Even my mother thought so; after catching a glimpse of Rowdy she voiced no objections when I turned the TV channel to CBS on Tuesday nights.


Ricky started referring to my birthmark as a “Rowdy” and eventually this replaced the “Marilyn” I detested so much.


Years later my doctor decided he didn’t like the look of that birthmark and decided it needed to be removed. Turned out it was a mole and a questionable one at that. It’s gone now but I feel a twitch on my upper lip whenever I hear Frankie Laine belt out the Rawhide theme song, and I’m grateful for Clint Eastwood for ridding me of any comparison to Marilyn Monroe.


Thanks, Rowdy. 



Clint really saved your bacon there. Makes me glad my moles are not that noticeable.
By: PT Dilloway on August 14, 2013
It's amazing what torments we will put ourselves through as kids to try to fit in.
By: mimi on August 14, 2013
At least you didn't suffer the same fate as Marilyn. But you probably didn't hack off the mob, the CIA, or the Kennedys (as if there's any difference). I've always wondered, but now I know: they CAN grow back.
By: Al Penwasser on August 14, 2013
Oh, that hurt to read it! And the sting of mercurochrome is something that still makes me cringe! Clint and Marilyn (and now Cindy Crawford) make those birthmarks/ moles way cooler. Glad you got yours taken care of, though, before it was trouble.
By: Shelly on August 14, 2013
Rickey may have had issues, but he was a good friend. PS Only adolescent kids could compare a chubby kid with a mole to MARYLN MONROE...holy moly!!
By: Cranky on August 14, 2013
kids can be so cruel. adults, too, actually.
By: TexWisGirl on August 14, 2013
And now you're gorgeous, right?
By: fishducky on August 14, 2013
I feel your pain. I have a birthmark on my neck. My older cousin would call it a dirt mark. She would hold me down and scrub it raw. Thanks for the story.
By: David Walston on August 14, 2013
I've got a mole just exactly like that! No one ever teased me about it - maybe they felt sorry for me :)
By: The Bug on August 14, 2013
You worried about that so much--and I didn't even remember Clint had one. In fact I went to google more pictures of him. I be damned! Good thing I have never had to identify anybody in a lineup! ;) And I'm glad you didn't do any serious damage to yourself!
By: Rita McGregor on August 14, 2013
Kids can be mean little sh***. I am glad that Ricky made it up to you for joining in on the Marilyn name calling. As one of the other commenters mentioned...I didn't realize that Clint Eastwood had a mole. He does and he never had it removed. Seemingly it didn't hurt his career.
By: Cheryl P. on August 14, 2013
the saddest thing about your story is that kids are still horrible to each other over little things like moles, birthmarks etc. Glad your story turned out with a happy many don't. Oma Linda
By: Oma Linda on August 14, 2013
Bespotted beauties everywhere thank their lucky stars that you did not become a plastic surgeon.
By: Val on August 14, 2013
Kids can be cruel. It seems to be much more serious to day with social media. It can be anonymous.
By: Red on August 14, 2013
Ouch...that hurt just reading about it!
By: Pixel Peeper on August 14, 2013
To be compared in any way to Clint Eastwood is a huge compliment. All that worry for nothing. How cool! S
By: Scott Park on August 14, 2013
Moles. Yuck. I've had some since I was a kid, too. They didn't really bother me until my teens, then I tried some kind of wart-remover acid thing. It hurt like heck, but didn't work. Now I've got even more of them. *sigh*
By: Lexa Cain on August 14, 2013
aww... I'm sorry those children made you feel so bad- we're absolute savages when we are kids....Lord of the Flies as it were....
By: Kathe W. on August 14, 2013
You must have had nerves of steel to do that to yourself! I'm amazed that I never noticed Clint Eastwood's mole before. Well maybe not amazed. I'm not the world's most observant person.
By: jenny_o on August 14, 2013
I'm very squeamish, I know what a hero, so I'll pass on this story!
By: LL Cool Joe on August 15, 2013
Another great story, incorporating teenage angst, self-mutilation, sex-goddess and Rawhide. What a great combination.
By: Bryan Jones on August 15, 2013
Thankfully, most kids grow up to be much kinder adults. Scars.. whether from mole mutilation or cruel words do tend to linger. And you've given me an ear worm... Rollin', rollin', rollin'...
By: Hilary on August 15, 2013
I never noticed that on Clint Eastwood's face. I was squirming for you, while reading this. Sorry. Kids have the potential for such cruelty. I'm glad all's good now, and that you got the questionable mole permanently removed. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on August 15, 2013
Obviously, the whole incident built character in the short chubby kid, for now his stories are the envy of all!
By: tom sightings on August 15, 2013
Kids can be so hurtful, thank goodness for Rawhide, I loved it too.
By: John on August 16, 2013
You have a high pain threshold. I bet the pain of name-calling tore through you so much so that it drove you to do what you did. Bully's of all stripes are cruel.
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 16, 2013
It's amazing to look back at our childhoods today and notice what meant so much to us. Mercurochrome was something that wasn't a part of my era. But I heard a neighbor's grandfather mention it often during summertime chats on their porch! ;)
By: Michael Manning on August 17, 2013
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By: on August 21, 2013

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