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Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect.

When I was a sophomore in high school I developed a wart on my left
index finger just below the knuckle. One day my hand was fine, and the
next day there was this big wart as if by magic. Having never seen a
wart before I nervously went to my mom and rather embarrassingly asked
her what it was. "Oh that's a wart" she told me.

It was an ugly thing. And having no experience in the matter I began to
pick at the little seed things in the center of it. Which of course made
the thing even worse.

After a month or so the wart went away as mysteriously as it had appeared.
But then, a couple months later, another one showed up on the same hand
but on another finger. That one lasted another terrible month. And then
it too was gone.

But the really strange thing about it all was that after those two I've never
had another wart, not in 38 years. I guess warts are caused by the human
papilloma virus. So evidently I had the virus back then but somehow have
never run across it in subsequent years.

Why would that be? The only explanation I can think of is that it was
environmental — something or someone that I came in contact with during
that period. I wasn't dating yet, so the transmission wasn't from kissing or
sex. Which pretty much leaves only indirect contact. Perhaps I got the HPV
from a school desk, in the cafeteria, or off a toilet seat.

Anyway, I'm just glad that I haven't had one since.

There has always been an association between witches and warts. Since
I was a kid I remember seeing depictions of witches with big warts on the
ends of their noses. While the people of 1600 didn't know anything about
viruses, they may nevertheless have observed some sort of connection
between warts and sexual contact. Thus perhaps the depiction of witches
with warts was a reference to a witch being a woman of "loose morals" as
they might have put it back then.

The most famous story about warts that I know of involves actress Helen
Mirren. When she was filming the Prime Suspect series an interviewer
commented on how in many scenes she didn't wear makeup — which back
then was rather unusual. Helen told him that she was doing the filming
"warts and all."

Now that's class. And to the best of my knowledge Helen might be bewitching
but she is not a witch.

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