Me and Bobby Mcgee : a frilly introduction to the romance of dying
January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized
I’m standing in front of the dog. She’s not dangerous. How could she be ? She’s been tied down to the same rope her whole life. Tied so down she’s not even to stand up.
That would develop her muscle structure and in South Korea that doesn’t make for good eating.
She’s cowering too. Why wouldn’t she when her whole life she’s known nothing from people but abuse ? But today will be the greatest day in her tragic terrible life. Why ?
I have sausages.Sausages and I need something to hug.
Not great sausages. Probably the closest thing to meat in them is horse anus. Quickly bought in a moment of rebellion at the 7/11 around the corner.
This is after all the worst day of my life and I’m sick of walking past this tragic scene. Let me try explain.
About an hour earlier I’m sitting in a doctors office. A few days earlier than that I’m having a radiative dye injected into my veins while a cat scan buzzes and whizzes and bleeps around my stupid head. It was the ants you see. There were ants in my head. I could feel them crawling up and down and around my brain.
I know this is irrational but the sensation is so vivid and unavoidably disturbing that I knew something was seriously wrong with me. A few days later in the doctors office I’m about to wish it was only ants.
The young female Korean doctor greets me with a warm smile and some small talk. I read that as a good sign. Premature over confidence is the order of the day and I fine tune my clairvoyance when I read from her face nothing but pure horror when she opens the results of the chart.
“Oh no” she says and covers her gaping mouth. The fight or flight reflex throw me off my chair and puts my back literally to the wall.
“Oh no ?” I manage to push out of my lips “Oh no what ?”
Her eyes roll into her head like a slot machine as she looks for the words in English. “Ainslie, you have …something…it’s wrong…in your brain.”
Ah all the easy jokes but I’m not really in the most humorous of moods.
All of information I should desire becomes irrelevant in the face of what really, suddenly at the age of 29, seems to matter. And the look on her face when she opened that folder really said more than enough.
“Treatable ? Am I going to die ?” I ask.
She performs the universal gesture of “I don’t know”, but not unkindly by shrugging her shoulders. “You should talk to neurologist. I call him now.”
A histrionic smile and greeting later I find myself sitting outside a neurologists office in the local hospital of Yongin, South Korea. I know it’s 3am back in South Africa and waking my parents up to panic at this hour would be a pretty selfish move. But I’m powerless to resist. What a man of any age really wants in times like this is the cotton soft words of his mother telling him it’s going to be ok and the tough bastard, life hardened advice of his father to tell you that whatever is wrong you will surely grit your teeth and beat the hell out of it.
They answer. I had told them about the ants the days before and they had written it off to me being neurotic. But they know I’m going for a cat scan and that I won’t be calling them unless something is really wrong. Except at this point in time I don’t even know myself so the conversation consists of me telling them that I’m waiting to see a neurologist…and …jesus…really ? A lady is walking out of his office and she is crying her eyes out ! Great omens. Really ? This ?
I cut the conversation short and tell them I’ll call them after I speak to the expert. Speak was an exagerattion. He spoke no English at all. She looked over my test results with a furrowed brow I would confuse with concern if I actually thought he knew what he was doing. On this person it looked rather like he did not know what the fuck was going on. He’s quiet for a long time. I’m watching his body language for any indication of my fate but his eyes have glazed over in what I realise is him looking for any English words that might help him.
Eventually he almost smiles as he seems to remember some English words that vaguely relate to the context of this situation. “Tumour related” he says as he points to a blob of white surrounded by red pen in the cat scan chart where it’s quite evident it shouldn’t be white. He grins, self satisfied that he communicated the message effectively by the terror on my face. He writes a little note in Korean and gives it to me and points to the underlined top.
“Taxi!” he says. Another moment of looking for the right word. “Give taxi”. He’s very pleased with himself as I slump out of his office into a world in slow motion.
I don’t get in a taxi. I look at the slip he’s given me and all I can make out is “MRI”. The type of thing that at 29 years old I didn’t actually know much about.
But I was about to learn a lot about these types of things in the days and years to come. But not this day. I’d really had enough of doctors this day.
So I don’t get in a taxi. I don’t give over the card. I just walk not paying any attention at all to the direction I’m going in. I leave that all to the reptile part of
my broken sick brain. The reptile part of my brain I notice as I come out of the panic attack induced stupor I’m in has walked me to a 7/11.
That’s quite an interesting choice for your subconscious brain to make in a time of turmoil. A convenience store that’s open all times of night. Over priced but when you really need a snack or a beer at 2 in the morning, she’s there for you. A place for chocolates, cigarettes, chips and caffeinated based drinks. All things the mind associates with rewards or comfort. I’m futile and hapless and lost for cause or direction and my brain knows where to turn in times like this. Hedonism and vice.
It’s also a place for sausages. And believe it or not that’s really all my pity parade little story is leading up to. Sausages and a dog.
So I’m back at that fence. And there is this dog. I walk past this dog every day on my way to work and every day it breaks my heart into a million splinters .Lately I’ve tried to avoid her. Put on my ipod and walk the other side of the road. But not today. There’s really nothing left of my heart today but dust.
I open that gate and sit down with that poor tortured dog. Predictably she cowers on her back but given there’s a 50% chance of that being coincidence because the dog can’t stand up so I’m not sure. If she was bred to be a companion I suppose she she’d be something close to a long haired labrador. But in fact I suppose the only thing that’s relevant right now is that’s she’s miserable. And misery loves company.
I sit down and hold that dogs face in my hands …and I lie to that dog.
I tell that dog that it’s going to be ok. I look into her sweet harmless face and tell her it’s all going to be ok. And I nail that lie down with sausages. And as I try feed her those sausages, she meets my gesture with suspicion. What is this strange behaviour you are engaged in human ? What kind of trickery and Machiavellian agenda is at play here ? What horrible fate awaits me via this temptation of treats you seek to entrap me with ?
But she has a moment of amnesia. All the pain and suffering humans have caused her from the day she emerged into this world as a hopeful joyous puppy are forgotten for a brief moment…and she allows herself to indulge in a dream. A dream so simple that us free men have stopped to bother to dream it. A dream of world where you are wanted, where you matter, where somebody fucking cares. A gentle loving world.
And she eats. And I cry.
I sob. I shake and howl. I whimper. What’s coming out of the hands over my mouth is the hangover of screams from the void of the soul. I’m truly in my mind, literally and figuratively fucked ! I’m finished ! I’m done ! I’m over ! I’m klaar !
And this dog….she’s just looking at me. She’s loving every single microsecond of our interaction. The attention, the food, the love. In fact I doubt in the rest of my years or even the ones gone past I’ll ever know the unquestioning exhilaration that this dog is feeling this day.
Bemused at my angst, this dog is about to teach me something in my darkest hour about the world, so obvious but so beautifully awful that the human mind instantly rejects any attempt to acknowledge it. And what she teaches me is this…
Freedom is having nothing left to lose.
I dry my eyes.