Funny thing, apparently when you get a cut in the corner of your mouth and then you pick at it incessantly because you can never ever leave anything like that alone… ever… it results in a scab that everyone and their mother will assume is herpes.

A few weeks ago I got all stuffy and couldn’t breathe through my nose. As a result of the night time mouth breathing, my lips got all dry and cracked. I go through this a few times a year and usually just use obscene amount of chapstick until I shed the layer of dead skin and the cracks heal.

I spend a few days in the process feeling like I have scales on my lips with little bits coming off every time I rub my lips together. It really helps my allure.

I know; this is totally what you wanted to hear about this morning; my sexy dry cracked lips.

One day, just at the beginning of my dry and cracked mode when I hadn’t yet bought chapstick, I was using a toothpick in the back of my mouth when I felt the side of my mouth give in to the pressure of the toothpick and split.

It was just a small cut but it HURT. Every time I opened my mouth it stung.

You guys know I never stop talking, right?

This wasn’t the first time that this had happened but it was by far the worst split I’d ever had there. While I’m completely used to the cracks I get all along the insides of my lips from mouth breathing, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to splitting the corner of my mouth. It always hurts like a mother.

Despite putting medication on it and trying my best to keep my mouth shut (HA!), it didn’t take the four seconds to heal that I would have preferred and I started absently mindedly picking at it.

So, of course, it got worse.

I can just imagine the glare my mother would be giving me if she were reading this. I’m going to go ahead and venture a guess that one of the top ten most common phrases I heard growing up was “stop picking at it!”

Mom, you were right.

By the time I went back to work the following Monday, it totally looked like I had herpes.

One of my oh-so-tactful coworkers walked up to my desk, smirked, and asked me, “So, Kendra, how’d you earn that?”

“What?” I asked, “The split in my lip?” I decided to pretend that I couldn’t possibly understand what he was implying; firstly, because it was an incredibly inappropriate question to ask a coworker; and secondly, because it amused me to watch him dig himself deeper once he realized how inappropriate the question was.

I took quite a bit of pleasure watching him tap dance around what he was trying to get me to admit.

When it ceased to amuse me I told him the truth. It was just a split and all I did to “earn” it was to have a bone in my nose that leans to one side preventing proper drainage and my use of a toothpick.

A few days later, at voice lessons, my voice teacher told me to open my mouth wide to hit a note properly. As I did, the spot re-split.

I hit the note and then grabbed my mouth. My voice teacher looked at me puzzled as I took a moment to compose myself. She looked at me shrewdly and said, “Oh, I see you’ve got that herpes virus. Don’t worry, it will heal soon.”

My eighty-something year old, outspoken voice teacher just told me I have herpes.


I explained to her that I had cut my lip, picked at it, and that it was not what it looked like. Unlike my impertinent coworker, she could say pretty much whatever she wanted to me. There’s something about being almost quadruple my age, being a Jewish woman from Germany, having had the career I would like to have, and being my teacher that gave her leave to say any old thing she pleases to me. I wasn’t going to try to make her feel awkward.

She just looked at me and said, “Well, that’s unfortunate that you have to go around looking like that. You need to put some ointment on it and keep your mouth shut… after our lesson.”

It healed over the next few days and I pretended like I didn’t wonder if everyone assumed that it was herpes.

When I mentioned the fact that I was glad it was healing to a friend he, too, admitted that he had assumed it was herpes.

I mean, with like 25% of people being a carrier of the virus it’s a totally fair assumption, it’s just a totally annoying assumption as well.

Moral of the story: Don’t pick at it. Also, listen to my mother. Or yours. Whichever.

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