Even with wrinkles you’re never too old for a breakout

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani /

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I still remember that fateful day when I was 16 years old and snuck into the basement with a jug of my grandfather’s homemade red wine and a pack of Camel cigarettes.

The next morning, my face looked like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. I had so many zits, I could have been the designated driver for Rudolph and guided Santa’s sleigh to a safe landing at JFK.

The acidity in that wine made my skin break out all over. It was the worst certifiable case of teenage acne on record, according to my dermatologist. My mother had a different take on the complexion crisis and offered a theological explanation for my profusion of zits: “God punished you for what you did, and I have a good mind to call the police and have you arrested for underage drinking,” she said.

But what Italian kid hasn’t had homemade wine at one time or another and crept into his closet, where he smoked so many stogies it smelled like a hookah lounge ... or burnt down the house.

Hindsight is 20-20, so I regret my foolishness, and I’m relieved that our legislators had the good sense to raise the drinking and smoking age to 21. I’m also convinced my grandfather’s homemade wine would have been an effective deterrent to teenage drinking ... or any drinking for that matter.

My collection of pimples eventually disappeared after generous applications of Clearasil and frequent prayer. I recently relived that embarrassing skin affliction when I woke up with a very large zit on the tip of my nose.

As a teen, it’s socially acceptable to have pimples, but when you’re an adult with gray hair and wrinkles, a pimple can lead to ridicule and exile. Before you know it, you’re banned from attending the Knights of Columbus spaghetti dinner, and AARP denies your nomination for Geezer of the Year. Plus, the college alumni association will snub you and send back your $5 donation to install another port-o-let at the football stadium.

Since I gave up vino a long time ago, this latest zit was attributable to another cause. Allergy pills make me break out, so I’m faced with a painful choice. Either I have to endure a runny nose or have pimples plastered across my face.

Every so often, a zit pops up on my nose from medication, stress or my wife’s spaghetti sauce. They often appear at the worst possible time, like when I have to attend a big social event or give a talk. And they’re awfully embarrassing. I can sense people staring at my nose and thinking, “Where did that thing come from?”

But there’s hope because my wife Sandy is on the cutting edge of questionable alternative medical treatments. With her knowledge of folk remedies, she could be the medical consultant for the Farmers’ Almanac, which is known for promoting natural remedies made from herbs, spices, roots, plants, twigs, motor oil and Jack Daniels.

Once upon a time, she made our family drink some concoction called noni juice, which came from the sacred noni plant found in the jungles of Tahiti. At $40 a bottle, we drank it slowly. I seem to recall that it was supposed to do something miraculous, such as lowering blood pressure, preventing male pattern baldness or winning Power Ball. Whatever it was supposed to do, it didn’t do.

Then, she made us drink matcha tea and take flax seed oil. Now, she’s pushing another miracle product called manuka honey, which can cost up to $60 a jar and comes from the manuka bush in New Zealand. When liberally applied to zits, manuka honey is supposed to make them vanish faster than benzoyl peroxide. And my zit DID vanish, although I’m not sure if it was the honey or the dog licking the honey off my nose that did the trick.

You can reach Joe Pisani at joefpisani@yahoo.com.