Thursday, July 28, 2005

Feeding on his damask leg, like a worm i' the bud

Another little bauble from David Sedaris, the master of self-deprecatory humour.

He was eight years old and living in the Congo, when he noticed a red spot on his leg; nothing huge—a mosquito bite, he figured. The following day, the spot became more painful, and the day after that he looked down and saw a worm poking out.

A few weeks later, the same thing happened to Maw Hamrick, which is what I call Hugh’s mother, Joan, and though her worm was a bit shorter, I think it’s much worse in terms of trauma or whatnot. If I was a child and saw something creeping out of a hole in my mother’s leg, I would march to the nearest orphanage and put myself up for adoption. I would burn all pictures of her, destroy anything she had ever given me, and start all over because that is just disgusting. A dad can be crawling with parasites and somehow it’s O.K., but on a mom, or any woman, really, it’s unforgivable.

As a fellow survivor of the worm-nesting-in-flesh syndrome, I can sympathize with this. It really is more creepy than it is painful. And it is more commonplace than you would think.

The setting: A semi-tropical country in sub-Saharan Africa

The scene: The lord of the manor (although it's more of a smallish townhouse than a manor, really) casually tosses his shirt into his laudry basket, confident in the knowledge that the resident maid will wash it and iron it and return it to store, duly sanitized. Ah, little does he know!

The maid does indeed wash and dry the shirt and then, while ironing it, thinking of this and that, no doubt, she omits to iron a little corner by the collar.

Three days later the master wakes to find an impressive, swollen-looking red bump growing under his collarbone. Alarmed and despondent, he rushes to the nearest medicine-man who surveys the bump grimly and informs the lord-of-the-manor that he is now host to a putsy-fly worm. Thr l.o.t.m's options are twofold:

1) He can ignore the bump and allow the resident worm to grow and mature till it becomes a fully formed fly that will, unbidden, burst forth into the world (I kid you not!) . Or,

2) He can cover the bump with Vaseline petroleum jelly (a product with multiple uses, if you are a denizen of sub-Saharan Africa) and an adhesive plaster and wait till the larva, starved of oxygen, worms its way to the surface of his skin and attaches itself to the adhesive plaster.

Chances are that he will select option # 2. While in the middle of a tense business meeting or a languid lunch with friends, it is always difficult to explain away the fly that just flew out from under your skin.

I too, in my youth, played host to just such a putsy fly. And while the bump itself didn't ache that much, the thought of putsy fly eggs under my skin was indescribably gruesome. The seven day wait to be divested of them was possibly the longest week of my life. I carry the scar to this day - just your everyday battle scar from life in sub-Saharn Africa.

For the rest of the Sedaris article, go here: http://www.newyorker.com/shouts/content/articles/050801sh_shouts

1 Comments:

At 8:58 PM , Blogger InAustin said...

gross! very.

 

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