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Underside - The Little Plastic Thingy

Author: Darryn King
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

I was in the middle of marinating the cat when I noticed something quite alarming. To my infinite horror, I realised I’d lost one of the little plastic thingies on the end of one of my shoelaces.

After making some quick calculations on my Chinese counting frame I was able to work out that a single plastic thingy can weigh anything up to 0.008 grams – even upwards of 0.009 grams on some of the more elaborate designs. It went some way to explaining the trouble I’d had walking around these past few days.

Off-centre by almost a hundredth of a gram, I lost my balance – and as I fell to the floor, I saw my life flash before my eyes…

I see myself, pinguid and rosy-cheeked, farting surreptitiously in front of the Christmas tree. There’s my father – his eyes twinkling with the Sarcoidosis – and there he is, dousing my brand new BMX bicycle in petrol, setting it alight and quoting extensively from Suetonius’s The Lives Of Famous Whores. My father was a complicated Sasquatch of a man who was generally disappointed with me, particularly because I showed no interest in following in his footsteps and embarking on a life of pretzel harvesting.

My first real job, as it turned out, was working part-time for a lexicographer. I spent my weekends in my cubicle, constructing and refining the definitions for every word in the English language, A to Z, one by one, communicating only with my editor who insisted on being referred to as The Grand Panjandrum. I particularly remember the letter D – which was a lot duller than B, but certainly more exciting than C at least – and my hapless colleague who landed the unenviable task of defining the word ‘do’. When he finally finished his definition it was 37 pages long of mostly gibberish, and he was last seen roaming the streets dressed in a potato sack, picking fights with mailboxes.

I deferred a university degree in Flatulence Analysis, again enduring endless squabashing from my father for it, and absquatulated with my first love. Sue-Anne was a multilingual mime artist with incandescent buttocks and a voice like a cheese grater being dragged across gravel. We spent several months together jillicking across the Appalachians, but it wasn’t to be: Sue-Anne somnambulated out of my life at the end of summer.

Metaphorically jugulated by my betrayal by Sue-Anne, and with only a battered aubergine as company, I found myself alone and far from nowhere, let alone anywhere. I decided I would teach myself the theremin and busk to raise the money to get back home, but unfortunately the only musical instrument on my personage was a Jew’s harp.

By the time my father found me I was by the side of the road, prostrate and ululating wildly before a moist double-bacon cheeseburger, convinced it was one of the ten avatars of Vishnu. I was taken home, kept on a diet of kippers and nursed back to health, but I soon learned my father himself was fighting a serious compulsion to eat silverware. Before long he was bed-bound, his once acidic eructations now little more than timid rustling sounds. He shuffled up the cosmic stairwell not long after, but we had made our peace.

At this point of my montage I was swept up by an unexpected frisson, and found myself insufflated enough to reach down, pluck off my sneakers, and cast them out the window with a mighty flick. Symmetry achieved once again, I dragged myself to my feet and took stock of my limbs. Ready to jam my squidger into the tiddlywinks of life once again.

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