A few days ago, I went to the dermatologist. It was time, time to see if there was anything that could be done.

Remember the Seinfeld episode with Kramer and his lawyer Jackie Chiles where Chiles says, “Your face is my case?”

If I had a case, my face would be my case and I could sue for damages.

“Herb, you should do something about those sun spots,” said Derek, my younger brother. “You’re pretty beat up.”

Wouldn’t I like to be like Derek? Everytime I see him, he looks better: Fewer spots, less wrinkles and skin softer than pink velvet. We’re both riding a train but his is going north and mine is going south.

I have a strategy given my southerly direction: Smile a lot. Smiling is like wearing a black shirt. Black can simultaneously enhance and hide.

When you smile, people think, “Well, at least he has a good smile.” It mitigates the visual carnage.

When I arrived at the dermatology office, I noticed it was right next door to CBCC (Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center). That’s convenient. If things don’t work out, they can just walk outside and yell, “We’ve got another one for you. You won’t have trouble recognizing him. He’ll be smiling and wearing black.”

After I signed in, the receptionist handed me an iPad on which to enter my medical history. I was impressed. No pen, clipboard or eight pages front and back.

Fifteen minutes later, they ushered me back to the first room on the left. The nurse looked at my chart and then asked me why I was there.

Where do I start? I have a bad case of the uglies and even if I didn’t, there are some bumps, moles and splotches I’d like checked.

“Do you have any melanoma in the family?” she asked.

Not really. Other than my dad, my namesake and the person I resemble most in the world, who died of melanoma. Besides that, not much.

She nodded. It wasn’t as if she was without sympathy but this was a dermatology office and these things do happen and if it didn’t work out, the next step was next door.

“The doctor will be in to see you soon,” she said.

Doctor, or in this case, a PA. He was bald, energetic and had a million dollar bedside manner. I felt better being in the same room with him. He might as well have said, “Don’t worry, we’ve got this. You’ll look like Derek soon.”

“What kind of work do you do?” he asked.

What kind of work do I do? I am usually tempted to answer, “Do you have any idea who I am? I am famous. I am somebody.”

“I work for the newspaper,” I said.

He nodded as if to say, “I’ve heard of those before but I’ve never read one.”

After more sparring, I asked if he could make me beautiful again. I told him my ageless brother had gotten some sort of chemical peel.

“We can do it but it hurts,” he said. “However, after it heals, your face will be as soft as it’s ever been.”

I’d like a soft face. That’s something I’ll have in common with the grandkids. I can rub theirs and they can rub mine.

“Better to do that in the winter when it’s cooler and there is less sun,” he said.

It was time for a check up so I stripped to my underwear. He examined me upside and down, taking pictures with his iPhone. As kind of a pain rehearsal, he froze some warts and keratoses with liquid nitrogen. I acted like it was nothing. It was something but it was important to show him I was brave so he would do the winter makeover.

He took biopsies on a couple of warts on my back.

“We should know in a couple of weeks on these,” he said. “We’ll call you if there is a need for further work.”

Further work? I won’t be surprised. This train is bound for glory. North, south, east and west.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or (661) 395-7279.

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