Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It's Great When You Stop

"It's great when you stop" is the comedy reason given when the question is asked, "Why are you banging your head on the wall?"

This question can of course be translated to various other self-inflictions of pain, including:

"Why are you removing your fingers and replacing them with sausages?"

"Why are you slamming your testicles/tits in the door?"

"Why are you chewing on your own tongue?"

I did this two days ago. It wouldn't have been so bad but I bit upon a previous tongue wound which I caused a couple of weeks ago, and which did not stop bleeding for two hours. Obviously I had bitten through a major-ish blood vessel just beneath the surface of the skin. Ice cubes eventually lessened the bleeding that time, but I was very uncomfortable and hot or cold food was completely out for two days. This time, the nice home I was staying had NO ICE!!!!! I couldn't believe it - no ice?? but this is Christmas, I sputtered, spraying red over the kitchen, where I had just done all of the washing up that wouldn't fit into the dishwasher - don't you guys all require ice with various of the sophisticated seasonal alcoholic contraptions that you neck with family and friends from dawn to bedtime? Apparently not. So I had to walk a mile to the nearest pub. Twenty minutes later I entered The Cock with a sore, still bleeding tongue, walked the three paces to the bar, "Good evening mate," I attempted, "Got any ice? I bit my tongue!" and poked out the red, sore body part which charmingly dripped once, red, onto the bar.

The barman flashed a smile and said, "Ouch!" sympathetically, handed me a pint glass full of cubes, picked up the cleaning spray and wiped the bar. I grimaced and mumbled a grateful "thanks", sat down, stuck the first of three ice cubes in my mouth, and looked around. The pub, lavishly decorated in red, green, silver and gold, with a tree half the size of the bar and artificial snow sprayed everywhere from the front windows to the lavatories, contained five people - the barman, a dark-haired, phlegmatic but friendly chap of about 30, the barmaid - blonde, young, attractive and bored, who sat and stared at a small television and studiously ignored everybody - a middle-aged, very red-faced, very inebriate couple drinking large G&Ts, whose clothing was unselfconsciously late 1970s, punk-chic gone middle-class, and who looked like they lived at the bar. They were conversing incoherently with each other and waving their arms around every so often. They looked at me briefly when I appeared, and lost their thread; then, refusing to be distracted, they turned back to their endless, unresolvable argument.

In the corner, clutching a pint, sat an old guy dressed in a huge winter coat, flappy hat and furry boots, even though the place had a roaring fire and was tropically hot - which brings me on to my last question, but not yet - don't you love these recursive sentences? - and as I sat there, on Christmas Day, patiently sucking ice cubes, waiting for my tongue to stop leaking blood, I contemplated the irony of how I, the only completely sober guy in the place, was nursing a classic 'drunken' injury... and how my self-inflicted wound had caused me to walk into a pub, stick my tongue out at the barman, and thus receive sympathy, aid, and assistance.

Healing underway, I walked back calmly in the dusk of Christmas Day, my tongue starting to mend, reminding myself to CHEW MORE CAREFULLY IN FUTURE. I passed a line of young women, dressed up in next to nothing, trip-tripping in high-heels on their way to the pub I had just left, and as I passed them I found a question forming in my mind - I said we'd get to it, right? - and this was:

"Why are you shivering in sub-zero conditions dressed in soft, permeable summer clothing with half an acre of flesh showing?"

And as they tottered onwards, laughing, drunk, happy and safe, I couldn't work out if it is optimism, pessimism, or accident that keeps any of us going anywhere.

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At 3:45 PM, Blogger RuKsaK quoth...

Excellent story - a real microcosm of the human race in there -and you at the centre with your dripping tongue. Bloody marvellous - a veritable metaphor for everything.

At 3:06 AM, Blogger Laurie quoth...

Great story. I must warn you, however, that if you're ever in Texas, do NOT walk into a bar and stick your tongue out at the bartender, bleeding or not. You'll thank me for that later (if you're ever in Texas with a bloody tongue).

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Lagowski quoth...

Biting your own tongue suggests your inner mouth is swollen due to you being over-tired. Maybe you are more tired than you realise (?).

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Comfort Addict quoth...

As one who bites his tongue far more often than necessary and, until recently, lived in an ice-free household, you have my sympathies.

In the case of the young women, I don't think that the answer is "it's great when you stop." It could be habit, a desire to conform or poor self-esteem (sorry to sound like Dr. Phil).


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