(Published in Business Standard on September 8, 2012)
You know how, when you have the delicious feeling that life is sorted—bills paid, great friends, good food, lots of tango—you also develop the creepy feeling that it’s all too good to last? Mark that feeling. For it is widely recognised that when life looks really good, you can bet your bottom dollar that a shitstorm is not far behind.
Speaking of one’s bottom dollar: in the last three weeks I have been floating about from meal to meal, and petrol station to petrol station, and café to café, and even shop to shop for a change, thinking, My, all this not-thinking-about-money makes a pleasant change. It felt so good, I blithely signed debit card slips with an indulgent smile. Many, many debit card slips.
Then, the other day, I decided to withdraw Rs 2,000 in cash from the ATM. The ATM told me that I had insufficient funds to complete the transaction. I told the bank that their ATM wasn’t working. The bank told me that it was too. I tried to pull out Rs 2,000 again. The ATM repeated that I had insufficient funds. I told the bank to check their computer records. The bank told me that their records were in agreement with the ATM. I told the bank that I needed to sit down.
It took a few minutes of meditation to slow the sweating enough so that I could buy a calming coffee on my credit card. How had life gone so horribly wrong? I could reach no conclusion I was willing to accept, and found that thinking tended to accelerate the sweating. The better part of valour seemed to be to give the whole thing up and go home, where at least the cable bill is already paid through the month.
Then I received a phone call from my brother. “You know how you have acne rosacea?” he said. (Acne rosacea is the skin condition that, if you’re lucky, makes you look as if you have a pretty pink blush, and if you’re unlucky makes you look like a barnacled alcoholic.) He was sending me a link I should look at. I looked at the link. It pointed to a study published in New Scientist that suggests that acne rosacea is caused by tiny spider-like creatures that look like sausages and burrow into the hair follicles on your face, where they mate and excrete and cause irritation to the skin.
You know how, when you have the delicious feeling that life is sorted, and also the creepy feeling that a shitstorm is coming, and then the shitstorm comes, but then something else happens that makes the shitstorm look good?
Well. Now that I live with the knowledge that little sausage-shaped spiders are pooping and having sex on my face—and who knows how many of the kinky little buggers combine those two activities—the ATM problem has faded into a minor inconvenience.
I don’t go out so much anymore in any case, since I spend so much of my time sitting in front of the mirror with a magnifying glass and a small noose. When I do go out, I feel a little self-conscious on behalf of the exhibitionist creatures on my face, and try hard to stay out of the light, so that people don’t ask what that redness on my face is, so that I don’t have to tell them. Life was so much less awkward when science said rosacea was an autoimmune deficiency.
The next step is to get a brown paper bag to put over my face. If you know of a brown paper bag seller who takes credit cards, do let me know.