A Terrible Bind

One of these days, I hope to publish in Elle or Marie Claire. Why? Did you know that Walter Kirn writes for Elle? I didn’t, until I picked up a copy. One of my best friends has written a couple of pieces for Elle, which led me to browse. And man, they have some dynamite writers. A friend just told me that Ariel Levy has a piece in the new Marie Claire. Ariel Levy is my favorite writer. Now, I’m about as reluctant to buy an issue of Marie Claire as you might expect, but sometimes you have to suck it up and do right by your favorite writers. I’m told that Levy, America’s wittiest, most stylish writer (who is also crazily beautiful), writes on her adolescent acne, and that’s it’s a really thoughtful piece.

Some years ago, I read and enjoyed Keith Fleming’s The Boy with the Thorn in His Side, a memoir of his teenage years. He talks about his disfiguring acne, and about how no one in his childhood ever stated the obvious — he was moody, he was troubled for some inexplicable reason. Only Edmund White, his uncle and a pioneering gay novelists, noted his horrible acne and said, shortly after Fleming arrived in his care, that something needed to be done immediately.

I think about this sometimes — the immense frustration of being a teenager, and of being constantly told things that are obviously false. Which is why I think mentorship needs to be a far more important part of education — having people you like and trust to teach soft skills, and to cut through bullshit. This informs my very mixed feelings about the medical profession, but that’s an entirely different matter.