She had a smile that could light up Wrigley Field. Boys at Sacred Heart Elementary had their air traffic controller's eyes on her. Long brown hair, dark eyebrows, two dimples, and the smallest mole, a distinguishable beauty mark, a half an inch below her right eye. When she sat at the boys lunch table, the buddies were on their best behavior. Chocolate Milk was quietly sipped out of straws not slurped, unfair lunch trades included thank you’s and for the first time, the little gents even used napkins.
Miss Scarlet Anderson made quite an impact on her second grade classmates. It was at the lunch table that Miss Scarlet, or as they called her, Scar, made a request. “Guys, guys, guys,” sometimes she liked to state things three times for effect, “Can you help me with my unsightly mole.” The three boys eyes zeroed in on the facial dot, it was less than a pimple but more than a speck, it was a brown pregnant freckle. It wasn’t three dimensional, it didn’t pop out, it was charming, but to boys, getting rid of Scar’s mole problem was their life’s mission. Scar added further information that may or may not have reached the boy's ear region. “I overheard my dad saying that he would pound that mole to oblivion, wherever that is, it sounded painful, so I thought you’d get rid of my mole for me.”
Imagine the Final Jeopardy theme song as the boys stared, glared, and determined their final answer. Decisively, after 11 seconds, Frankie declared, “I could burn it off!” Scar moved her chair a foot back from the table and said, “Frankie, Frankie, Frankie Provolone, yes his family was a cheese, you will not set fire to my mole.” Frankie’s claim to fame was that he was an amateur pyrotechnics expert, which in layman's words: he liked to blow crap up and sometimes it was literally crap, with dog poop his feces of choice.
Now it was Toad’s turn to take a swing at the mole dilemma. Toad wasn’t nicknamed for his tendency to eat flies, crickets were his edible insect of choice. He was named Toad for his constant “I told you so, comebacks.” I told you so became I toad you so and hence the Toad moniker.
“Scar, haven’t I toad you a thousand times to embrace the mole,” stated Toad. “Ewww, ewww, ewww, that brown thing,” Scar replied. The boys huddled together to come up with a solution as Scar finished eating her Scooby Doo fruit roll-ups. “What about using mayonnaise to camouflage the mole?” plugged in Steve. The three heads looked at this idiot of an idea and said, “Yeah, that’s a great solution.” Frankie grabbed a mayo packet and countered, “I don’t know, I think this shade of white is too much like bird droppings, let's use some brown mustard to match Scar’s tan.”
There were packets of ketchup and mustard at the condiment table, but there wasn’t any brown mustard in sight. Toad’s middle aged, she was 29, and still single Aunt Keira worked in the kitchen and he knew exactly where extra bags of funyuns and other foods of necessity were stashed. He walked into the smokey cafeteria kitchen like a high roller into Caesar’s Palace. The smoke was coming from Ethel the lunch server, she had the ability to finish off a pack of Merit Gold in one hand while spooning out crunchy meatloaf in the other. The cook greeted Toad with a side stash of dark brown tator tots and Aunt Keira squeed his chubby cheeks until they were numb.
Success, Toad found the brown mustard underneath some cocked and waiting mice traps in the lower cabinets. The glass jar was half full, and when he placed it on the table, the watery contents made a small squishy brown tidal wave.
Opening was a test of strength, Frankie was skinny but wiry, he grabbed the jar and put it close to his caved in chest. “AAAAAAAGH, AAAAAAAGH, no use, let me get an M-80 to blow that top off.” Scar put the jar back on the table, grinned, opened it easily and replied in her best second grade diction, “How is this moldy brown mustard going to get rid of my mole problem?”
Toad leaned back, thinking it wouldn’t work, while Steve strategized the plan of application. He was the George Peppard/Hannibal Smith of this A (minus) TEAM. “No Frankie, don't just dot the tiny mole area, you have to create a base so it matches up with the entire face.” They continued to smear brown mustard all over Scar's cheeks with a spork, Frankie’s utensil of choice. The prehistoric brown mustard was burning Scar’s face, the mole wasn’t visible, but neither were Scar’s eyebrows and nose.
If anger had a face, it was seven years old and covered with old saturated brown mustard. Exhaust was coming from Scar’s ears when she shouted, “What, what, what, the mole isn’t gone, my face is!” The rest of her class laughed as she sprinted out of the cafeteria to the girls bathroom. “I toad you so, I toad you so,” was heard spiraling around the boys table.
The 1980’s school bathroom had lime green linoleum flooring and white graffiti free stalls, which was included in a Catholic education. Scar wasn’t a crier, she wiped the ick off her face with toilet tissue, then used the linen pull down towel dispenser to clean up and came out whistling Africa by Toto. Pony tails, long skinny arms, and the fact she was faster than any boy made her extremely popular. It was as if Cupid’s arrow shot the boys with a compound crossbow, Scar was effervescent.
The mole wouldn’t peel off, God knows Frankie and his Swiss Army knife would have tried that. During art class, Steve came up with an epiphany. Water colors! He took his paint set and sat next to Scar. She was still steaming over the hot mustard. “If you still wanna get rid of your mole problem before you go home, well I have the answer,” Steve said. Scar looked at him awkwardly and replied, “As long as it doesn’t involve condiments.”
The art teacher was disciplining Frankie for making machine gun noises out of bubble wrap when Steve dipped his paintbrush in brown paint, while Toad used yellow to make a perfect tone. They told Scar to sit quietly and to look at the ceiling. They were two artists, tilting her head from time to time and blowing on their paintbrushes for the perfect application. The mole was gone, Scar wanted to see it for herself. She walked up to see her reflection in the window and saw her face, moleless. Now her dad wouldn’t have to worry about getting rid of their mole problem and she could rest easy. Even Frankie gave a thumbs up before heading to the Principal’s office.
After the school bell rang the four walked home together, even though it was out of their way, the boys liked to walk to Scar’s house first. The skies started to darken and the winds picked up. They came to Scar’s white picket fence and a terrential downpour came down, there wasn’t a drizzle warning, it was water bucket after water bucket on their unprotected heads. Most notably the rain fogged up Toad’s glasses and extinguished the paint covering Scar’s mole.
Her Dad held the screen door and waved the group in. Their shirts were soaking wet and their backpacks drenched. Scar went right to her face, touched her mole and felt the paint running down her cheeks into her neck. She began to cry and remember Scarlet Anderson was tough, she never cried. Her dad took her into his arms and said, “Scar, sweetie, what’s wrong?” She told him about how she overheard him complaining about getting rid of the mole. His concern was exchanged for a grin and he nodded his head. The three boys didn’t know what was happening, but Toad assuredly knew that a “I toad you so” was coming shortly.
“Scar, I know we live near the city and we don’t see many animals or critters, but we have this one nasty mole, that looks like a dark raccoon, it has been digging holes and ruining flowers and tree roots. It has nothing to do with your beautiful little mole, just then her Dad quietly scratched at her face and took her wet self in closer. “I toad you so,” was blurted for the entire block to hear.
The rain automatically stopped and Frankie took out a small case of explosive fireworks and said, “I guess you will need my help again.” Everyone laughed, but Frankie's fireworks wouldn’t be needed. Under the laughter they could hear an animal squirming and slipping down their yard onto the side of the curb. The mole would float an entire mile to a nature preserve where it could dig and burrow with other moles.
Years later Scar would have a daughter of her own, who had a beautiful little mole of her own, and Scar would always say, “This beauty mark is a key hole to your soul.” Her daughter would then respond, “I know, I know, I know, you TOAD me so.”
Author Notes: 80's story about nasty brown mustard, fireworks, Funyuns, and Toto.