I’m rather low on inspiration these days, so I figured I’d just tell a story about a rather gross thing that happened to me once.

For a few months I lived as a lodger in an apartment with a woman in her sixties and her son in his twenties. There was a bit of a Bates Motel vibe going on. Indeed, one night I awoke wondering if I had actually ever seen the two of them in the same place.

As a generally unobtrusive tenant, I got on well with both of them, but my rent terms were pretty restrictive (no use of the kitchen cooking equipment bar the microwave; no use of the washing machine without paying), a fact which tended to stick in the craw somewhat, although I figured I could tough it out for the duration.

Since I was unable to do any cooking, I tended to do a lot of eating out. One day I came back from dinner and found that the son -whom I had not seen for a day or so- had taken to his bed, something the normally talkative mother didn’t wish to elaborate on.

The next day at lunchtime, when I returned to the apartment from work, I was sitting at the kitchen table when the son came in wearing pyjamas, walking gingerly. His mother lifted a saucepan and filled it with hot water and some salt, and handed it to him. I watched him take it out of the room into the bathroom, which was just beside the kitchen. Perhaps naturally enough, I was rather curious.

Later on, I asked him if he was feeling all right. He said, yeah, he was just tired because he had to go into hospital for a minor procedure. I asked him what the story was with the saucepan and the hot salty water.

He said, well, I might as well tell you. I got circumcised yesterday and just need to keep everything clean.

In that moment I was never more thankful for being ripped off on rent in my life.

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September 2006

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