It was the only cloudy afternoon that we had encountered on our spring break trip, and my mother and I had just returned to our hotel room after a mid-day lunch and shopping session. Sarasota isn’t normally cloudy, so we knew that this was likely our only time to rest before the sun reemerged the next day. While my mom sent e-mails in bed, I decided to take a shower.
As I turned the gold-plated shower handle to the hottest setting, I looked down at my right foot, propped up on the bathtub’s edge, noticing a rough patch on my toe. It had been there for a few months; I just assumed it was an oddly shaped callus from playing lacrosse. It didn’t hurt, so I ignored it, thinking I would just get it shaved off with a pumice stone at my next pedicure.
As I ran the bath, I took a close-up picture of it and posted it to my lacrosse Snapchat group. A friend quickly responded, saying, to my surprise and dismay, that it looked like a wart of some kind. After extensive research on my then steam-clouded computer screen, I learned that the rough patch was a cluster of mosaic plantar warts.
I was disgusted with my own foot. Yes, I knew people who had warts, but I never thought I would be affected by them. Yet, here we were in the marble-floored bathroom of the Ritz Carlton – me and my cluster of warts.
My first thought was, Wow, I’m going to cut my foot off. This is not an okay embarrassment for me to have. My entire toe, foot and ankle need to be amputated. Irrational as it may seem, I rushed into our hotel room, smelling of sunscreen and perfume, and announced my surgical plans to my mother, who was unimpressed.
“Holly, stop overreacting. It’s probably nothing,” she said, glasses perched on her nose and iPad keyboard in her lap. She always says this when I have an ailment, and she is usually right, but I knew that this was not one of those insignificant issues I could just ignore.
I went back into the bathroom, feeling defeated, and began a frantic photo shoot, sending copious amounts of flash-on, close-up shots to my friends, who obviously did not want to see my deformity. I also texted a friend whose mother is a dermatologist, and asked what I could do about my crisis. Because my friend is not a dermatologist, she couldn’t provide me with the information that I needed and told me to make an appointment with her mom. I tend to over-share, and this was one of those instances.
After examining my warts for about five minutes, I decided to do what I do best: name the inanimate object. Names give personality, and I name everything from my car (her name is Jojo), to blankets, to pieces of clothing. I wanted to make my warts as fashionable as possible and thought that personifying them might lessen my resentment toward my little predicaments.
What name could I give them that was fashionable and attractive, but also a little bit warty? I sat for a while, rotating my foot, observing every angle and trying to think of a name that captured the glory and beauty that was my cluster of warts. The first name that popped into my head was Stephanie. It rang with elegance, and my dad’s name is Stephen and he is a little bit warty, so it just felt right. It would be hard to name and remember each wart in the cluster, as there were about eight warts on my right ring toe, so I concluded that they would all be Stephanie, and the entire cluster would be “The Stephanies.”
They might be gross, and my friends might wince when I show them my foot, but the personification of my warts has changed the way I view them. The Stephanies are friends, no longer enemies, and although our time together is drawing to a close, I have accepted that, at least for a little while longer, they are a part of me.
Since March, The Stephanies and I have been on many journeys. We have been to four states, including Florida, Ohio, New York, and Connecticut; made it through more than half of a lacrosse season using various bandaging techniques; and have worn flip flops and Birkenstocks, fully exposed, without a care in the world. I will admit, I tried to freeze them off twice with a drug store wart kit. However, until the dermatologist appointment in a few weeks, I am doing my best to enjoy their
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.