The Phantom of the Operation

Several years ago, a woman on Twitter sent me a direct message that read, “Can I ask for your insight as an unbiased third party?”

“Of course.” I love providing insight. It makes me feel insightful.

“I’m thinking about getting a breast lift. What do you think?”

Someday Johnny Drama will get the calf implants he's coveted.

Surprisingly, this was not a come-on. The woman genuinely wanted feedback about the idea of plastic surgery. I told her that I appreciated her asking for my advice, but in the end it came down to what she wanted for herself. I think for a lot of people, it’s a confidence issue. In a world where you can directly make a difference in your confidence level by shelling out some money, who am I to get in the way of someone feeling better about themselves?

That said, the idea of plastic surgery has always repulsed me. I picture the women used in Nip/Tuck promos with lines etched all over their bodies where the surgeons will cut. It gives me the heebie jeebies.

So I’ve told myself for the longest time that I’d never consider plastic surgery (unless I got in a debilitating accident). In fact, I don’t plan on every altering my appearance beyond working out and getting my hair cut–no piercings, no tattoos, no hair dye (even though I’m rapidly going grey).

And then I realized a few days ago that I had plastic surgery and didn’t even realize it.

It’s not a big deal; I have a lot of moles, and I decided to get a few removed. Two were tiny little tags, while the last was a prominent gentleman, a mole among moles, a mole that stood a head above the rest. We’ll call him Thaddeus.

Thaddeus resided directly on my spine in the exact place where women regretfully get their tramp stamps. I had always assumed that he had little mole arms that reached around my spine and into my nervous system, meaning that removing him would involve (a) reconstructive back surgery and (b) a complete loss of sensation in a random appendage (with my luck, either my middle toe or penis).

Nope. I was completely wrong. With a little bit of numbing and a deft flick of the wrist, my dermatologist had the mole in a jar. I have no doubt that scientists are currently hard at work in a secret lab trying to spawn 100% mole versions of myself.

So now I have nothing where the mole was. And you know what?

It’s so damn freeing. 

I’m used to my moles, but that doesn’t mean I like them. I do millions of situps to make up for the moles in the hopes that the ladies will notice my six pack before they notice the dots on my body. And so to have smooth skin where Thaddeus once was? In losing a part of myself, I feel more whole.

The oddest thing is that I have what I’ll call “phantom mole syndrome,” akin to the phantom limb syndrome that amputees experience. I’ll be doing something that I’ve done a million times–like brush my teeth–and I’ll reach around to thumb Thaddeus, and I’ll realize two things:

  1. Thaddeus is no longer there.
  2. I’ve been touching Thaddeus with my thumb every time that I’ve brushed my teeth over the last 25 years!!!!

It’s so weird. So, so weird.

Have you ever felt more whole after having a part of your body removed? Would you ever get plastic surgery? And most of all, what kind of a career should Thaddeus look into now that he’s on his own?

11 thoughts on “The Phantom of the Operation”


    So, my skin is almost completely mole-free. Except that when I was growing up, I had ONE on my neck. Where everyone could see it. And because it was basically the only one I had, I HATED IT. I felt like it was a massive bull’s eye and I dreamed of what it would be like for it to be gone.

    Turned out, all I had to do was voice this dream to my parents, and they set up an appointment. I had it removed when I was 13 or 14. And seriously? Life changing.

    Now, anything that involves being put to sleep and weeks of recovery under bandages freaks me the heck out. But small things like that–and also LASIK which I am extreeeemely interested in–yes, please.

    • Isn’t it weird how we obsess over little things that we actually have the ability to change? I’m like you–I loathe being put to sleep or being wrapped up in bandages. But this wasn’t bad at all.

      I’ve heard that LASIK does involve some recovery, but that it’s worth it in the long run. I’ve considered having my tonsils taken out, just because I don’t think they’re doing me any good (I’m sure it would be wise in the long run), but the thought of not being able to eat solid food or do much of anything for a few weeks deters me from seriously considering it.

  2. I tried to remove a finger with a table saw. Does that count? I saw those 5 unsightly extensions of my palm and thought, if I just rounded that off, it’d be nice and smooth. Big mistake.

  3. I too have dealt with mole issues. I had one on my back which my older brothers nicknamed “Mole Everest.” Grossest nickname ever. Thankfully my mom had the sense to take me to get it removed when I was about 8 or 9.

    • Mole Everest is pretty gross, but I can definitely relate. Thaddeus had elevation too. I honestly didn’t realize how gross it was, which is unfortunate, because I’ve gone through most of my life with that guy!

  4. I don’t think good old Thaddeus should have to work, now that he has been freed. Unless he really wants to, then he should do something like be a performer at an airport lounge, or maybe something super classy like restroom attendant. 🙂

    I’m pretty glad after reading this that I have been fortunate enough to not have moles, just some freckles.

    I’ve considered getting LASIK too, but like my glasses too much to go through with it. As for the voluntary tonsillectomy, I was all for it until a co-worker needed theirs removed and it was about a 2 month recovery. Apparently it’s a lot harder to recover from that as an adult than as a child.

    • Thaddeus isn’t the type to go on welfare. He may have to work more than one job, so I could definitely see him ending up as a lounger performer AND a restroom attendant. Someone has to hand out towels to people.

      2 months for tonsillectomy recovery?! That’s no fun.

      • Some other ideas of possible jobs for Thaddeus could include, but are not limited to:

        1. Movie Theater Ticket Taker
        2. Underwear Model (do moles even need underwear?)
        3. Fortune Cookie Fortune Writer
        4. Pet Food Taster

          • I may have had a little too much free time at work tonight…and might be procrastinating a little on a project I’m working on. Thinking of jobs for unemployed moles seemed like a much better idea 🙂


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