This weekend, I spoke with someone who had recently read an article that affirmed that yes, people actually do judge you by what you read on the subway. Instead of pondering ways to conceal an Us Weekly inside a New England Journal of Medicine, I immediately wondered if people were also judging me by my bookmark.
My bookmark looks like this.
That's right. These days, one can enjoy an absorbing work of literature while simultaneously learning which of his or her moles are cancerous. And, thanks to this party favor from my dermatologist, now not even reading can distract me from the fact that my skin is a ticking time bomb.
Not only can I not avoid contemplating my impending death by mole, but it's impossible for me to make it through my commute without feeling some very befuddled stares creeping over my shoulder. I tend to read with my bookmark marking the page I'm on, so if a fellow passenger happens to take a glance at what I'm reading -- as I almost always do if the person next to me has a book open on his or her lap -- he or she comes face-to-face with an illustrated guide to melanoma.
"Why not just flip the bookmark over?" you may ask. Fair enough. If I do, curious fellow passengers get to look at this
and draw their own conclusions about why I'm keeping my place with what appears to be a comic strip of a naked man examining himself with a hand mirror.
Since I don't have plans to replace a perfectly good bookmark, I'm trying to make peace with it. I don't try to cover it up on the subway anymore. In fact, I'm trying to embrace my role as a walking, reading public service announcement. The truth is that I've probably been more conscientious about applying sunscreen since I began spending prolonged periods of time staring at Mr. Hand Mirror; maybe my fellow passengers will be, too.
If you recognize any of the moles on my bookmark, get yourself checked out by a dermatologist. Don't forget to ask for a free bookmark.