THE MIRACLE OF ANTIBES

     I was at some function the other day, and a poor soul who was trying to be somewhat social made the mistake of asking me if I had a favorite place in the world.
     "Sure," I replied. "The town of Antibes, on the French Riviera."
     He was impressed. "Oh, yes, Antibes is very beautiful. A charming village in a lovely setting. What did you like best about it?"
     "It cleared up the acne on my back," I answered. "I call it The Miracle of Antibes."
     That wasn’t quite what he expected to hear. But I wasn’t about to talk about architecture and cafes and nightlife. I was going to talk about miracles and zits.
    I was 19 years old and taking a semester off from college and backpacking through Europe, I began, as the poor soul who asked the innocuous question scanned the room looking for an escape.
    Sadly, I wasn’t about to jump right to The Miracle of Antibes. First, I had to give a little history of my acne problem.
    It was horrid. Fortunately, my face was generally spared, but my back was legendary. I had pimples on top of pimples. I had whiteheads, blackheads, greenheads, whateverheads. From the age of 15, my back was an absolute mess. I still remember taking my shirt off one day and my best friend from high school noticed a lone pimple on my chest.
    "OH, MY GOD!!!" he cried. "THEY’VE GONE ALL THE WAY THROUGH!!!"
    Taking my shirt off was not something I relished doing. I played a lot of basketball, and we always broke up the teams into "shirts or skins." I prayed my team was "shirts." (Then again, when I was "skins" the defense gave me a little more room. )
    The good news was that I found a high school girlfriend who liked popping zits. I’m not sure what became of her, but there’s a good chance she’s either a doctor or a nurse. She’d spend hours working away. It was the closest I could come to a back scratch, so I took it.
    All through my teenage years, I dealt with the humiliation of having a back that frightened little children. I knew as I walked down a beach that people were pointing at my back, wondering what I did to deserve such a curse.
    "So what does this have to do with The Miracle of Antibes?" asked the man who had stupidly asked what was my favorite place in the world and was now regretting he had ever met me.
    I considered going into a little more detail on the history of my acne problem, but I could see he had suffered enough. I decided it was time to reveal The Miracle of Antibes.
    I had been traveling for a couple of months throughout Europe, by myself, hiding my back. With no girlfriend to pop them, the zits were growing uncontrollably. Fortunately, though, it was early Spring and the weather was cold. My shirt had stayed on, and the public was safe.
    I reached the French Riviera and the coastal town of Antibes in mid-April. To my horror, the sun was shining and the temperature was a balmy 70 degrees, the first warm day of my trip. Since the French Riviera is known for its beaches, I had no choice.
     I walked with my backpack up and down the beach at Antibes until I found an area where there were few people. Looking around, hoping there would be no screaming, I quickly took off my shirt.
     Since I was already wearing shorts (I had great legs---not a zit in sight) I ran into the glimmering Mediterranean Sea, frolicked for a bit, and then, with no longer a care in the world, plopped face down on the sandy beach, exposing my back to the world and a blistering sun.
    Immediately, I felt it happening. The Miracle of Antibes was upon me. My pimples began to disappear, one by one. As I laid on the beach, I could feel my life changing. By the end of the day, all the acne on my back had dried up, never to be seen again. It was The Miracle of Antibes.
     "Sounds like sunburn to me," said the man as he walked away.
     Nope. He’d never seen my back. Trust me---it was a miracle.
 

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