Want to hear about the foul-smelling pus I've been squeezing from the cyst on my shoulder?
See, the thing is, I have a problem with caffeine -- I can't tolerate it at all. I love the crazy excited feeling it gives me, but what I don't love so much is the inevitable lump I develop, usually within hours of ingesting whatever half can of Coke, or three sips of decaf, or two chocolate covered espresso beans I've rashly decided to imbibe in a (maybe thrice-yearly) concession to exhaustion and desperation and/or love of candy in all forms. Said lump will generally present itself before bedtime on the day of the offense, maybe under my arm, or on my upper back, and will look like a big, bright red, headless pimple. It will feel solid to the touch, and tender when I poke at it, which I will not stop doing, because ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, I don't know why. But the lump is not otherwise problematic, and always goes away in a day or two, and by then I have a terrible whanging caffeine withdrawl headache, and I swear that between the lumps and the brain trauma, I'm never having another sip of the evil stuff ever again.
Then, about two weeks ago, I had lunch with friends at a fancy French restaurant, the type of place that totally intimidates me and makes me want to drop forks everywhere and say "gracias" instead of "merci," because everybody speaks Spanish but who speaks French? And the waiter asked me if I wanted tea or coffee with dessert, and I murmured "no, thank you," which he must have translated into "decaf, thank you," because two minutes later he presents it with a flourish -- "Decaf pour madame." And I'm too shy and weirded out to go through the whole, "oh, I'm sorry, you must have misheard me" thing with this guy, who is already horrified at my manners and my shoddy, insecure table French, so I just say "mayre cee," and take a sip, which turns into a few sips -- why not.
ANYWAY, days pass, and no lump -- I seem to have gotten some kind of "get out of having a cyst free" card. Maybe I'm developing a tolerance for the stuff, I think, wishfully. It would be so awesome to have access to a cheap, legal, delicious stimulant; I could probably write my second book in about two weeks if I was high on coffee or soda the whole time. Plus it kills the appetite, and satisfies the oral craving...I mean, sign me up! Register me for some of that! Add me to that Yahoo group! I vote "yes" on Proposition Caffeine!
Except then I got a lump. Not a bright painful one, just a dull lumpy one, on my left shoulderblade. I noticed it when I was hunched over my computer late one night, reading about bird flu (which is an incredibly relaxing way to prepare one's self for sleep, by the way!) while dazedly scratching and picking at myself. I reached over and scratched an itch on my shoulder, and there was a little lump there. Ah, the fucking caffeine caught up with me, I realized (though by then we'd been through the migraine and the prayers to our non-religious non-deity and the swearing of the never again, so really it had already caught up to me, plus run me over). I reached back absent-mindedly, still fascinated by the details of the coming Bird Flu Armageddon (Flarmageddon?) online, and gave the lump a squeeze. A satisfying amount of pus came out, which I then observed on my fingers -- white, stringy. Awful smelling.
Ugh! What is that odor? I bring my fingers in closer to smell better, and recoil. Bleh! Ew! It's got a rancid undertone, like the bacterial vein in blue cheese, but with kind of a...vinegary ass smell, too. But it's coming from my very clean shoulder! Ew! This smell is what those disgusting Harry Potter vomit-flavored jelly beans must taste like. Bleh!
Now I am concerned less with the fate of society, and more with the stinky pus coming from my shoulder, which comes out in a thin white rope upon the application of pressure. I squeeze, I sniff, I recoil again. Ecch! It's too bad Bill's asleep, because I could really use a consultation right now. "What do you think it is?" "I don't know, but it smells like...a decomposing armpit." I hasten to the bathroom, where I witness the emission of numerous milliliters of the foul pus from an otherwise innocuous pore on my back. Squeeze. Wipe. Eesh. Squeeze. Wash. Blech.
There seems to be an inexhaustable supply of this maggoty goo; I spend fifteen minutes exuding it, then I wash my hands with the fruity-smelling soap, wash my disgusting shoulder with alcohol toner and soap, then go to bed, laying on my right side so as to not anger the parasitic flesh demon I am now hosting on my left shoulderblade.
The next morning, I solicit Bill's professional opinion.
"Jesus Christ, that stinks! What the hell is that? It smells like that stuff cats spray out of their ass glands. Ewww! Man, there's a lot of it, too." Sniff. "EWWWWWWWW!"
Despite my great desire to stay home and mess with this thing all day -- squeeze it, put samples on microscope slides and study it, photograph it for posterity, invite people over to smell it -- I leave it alone and we go about our business all weekend. Then last night, I fish it out and give it a tentative prod. No pus. I squeeze harder. A tiny little bit. It smells bad, too, but not as bad. Now it smells like an old, sour pot of coffee.
A ha! Fucking "decaf."
Anyway, the majority of the disgusting skunk pus seems to have been expelled from my body, which is half relieving, and half disappointing, as I no longer have a natural deterrent against predators in the wild ("Help, Bill, these sharks are getting ready to eat me!" "Quick, squeeze your cyst at them!"). Until, of course, the next time I take a swig of Mountain Dew, and fetid bile starts leaking from my ears.