Giant Peach

Columnist Herb Benham writes that sometimes a bump on the head takes on a life of its own, not unlike the oversized stonefruit in "James and the Giant Peach."

I found a bump on my forehead, recently. The bump started small, but didn’t stay small, and small is everybody’s hope when they discover a bump on their forehead.

I was looking at my reflection on the phone, something I do not recommend if you are struggling to come to grips with what has happened to your face because it will do little to check the breakneck descent into the self-esteem abyss.

What was that? For a minute, I thought it might be a problem with the phone. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d cleaned it and perhaps there was front pocket dust on the screen that was marring my character-rich, 66-year-old complexion.

I gave the screen one of those har-hars, like the phone version of the cleansing breath in yoga — also called the ocean breath — and then wiped it on my shirt, a business casual version of Lululemon.

I looked again and the screen was fine but my forehead was not, specifically, the left side where it sloped to join the scalp in the same way that a sun salutation reaches for Surya, the solar deity.

I put my hand on my forehead as you might if the springs on your hatchback had worn out and rather than staying put in the up position, it had swung down and whacked you on the forehead.

How bad was it? Was I bleeding, if so, how much was I bleeding? This, however, was not a blood check but a size assessment.

How big? Asking how large a bump on your forehead is like asking how big the bear was that visited your campground in the middle of the night. Any bump, like any bear, is bigger than you want it to be and since both are uninvited, neither are welcome.

My first inclination was to blame the mosquitoes, specifically Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito). Normally they go for ankles and feet so choosing a forehead would show a genetic recklessness that did not bode well for any of us.

It’s important to rule out spiders. People are always talking about spider bites and the boogeyman of that genre is the brown recluse spider whose description includes amputation, death and after-death.

I looked at myself in the mirror in the bathroom. The bump looked as if it had gotten bigger in the 15-foot walk from desk to mirror, which made me think that if the distance had been longer the bump would have been bigger.

It reminded me of “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl, one of the greatest books ever written about good, evil and oversized fruit.

James, a small boy living with his two mean aunts — Spiker and Sponge — because his parents were eaten by a tiger that escaped from the zoo, notices that the single peach on the peach tree in the backyard is growing and one day grows bigger than a large house and that’s where the adventure starts.

I was on a similar adventure with a bump that was expanding both astronomically and geometrically, or so it seemed because it’s hard to factor in the effects of shame and horror.

I had hats and, should it continue to grow, I would be employing those hats.

“Why are you wearing that hat to bed?”

“I always wear a hat to bed. Haven’t you noticed. It’s like wearing a night sock.”

I imagined these and other conversations over the next hour as the bump continued to tumefy. I made deals with the devil: ‘I will accept the bump and live with it if you will make it stop growing. I know I deserve this because nothing, not even alarming bumps, happens without a reason but please dear god, devil or some mischievous lesser spirit, please.

An hour later my prayers or agnostic exhortations were answered and the bump reached a steady state and neither grew nor shrunk. Not shrinking was not growing and not growing was not bad.

I put on a hat in case somebody came into my office and I had to explain the unexplainable. An hour later, the bump shrank and by the next day it was gone. Gone like James and the Giant Peach, into the faraway sky and the ocean blue.

Contact The Californian’s Herb Benham at 661-395-7279 or His column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Effective Sept. 30, story commenting on will end. Read Executive Editor Christine L. Peterson's Sound Off for details.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.