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Thursday, August 31, 2006

How Are You?

It’s a question that you probably hear a dozen times a day, and one that you answer unthinkingly every time. In almost every case the person asking doesn’t really care about your health; it is just a polite greeting, a bit of linguistic sawdust, more of a verbal tick than a true attempt at communication. After all, why should someone—a complete stranger—working in a coffee shop care about your physical health? Answer: they fucking don’t. Still, they were polite enough to ask so we return the politeness with a lame response.

We say things like “fine,” “OK,” or “Just dandy.” I have taken to saying, “Never better.” This usually elicits shock and surprise from whoever it was that inquired as to my health. Most casual greeters seem suspicious of such an upbeat answer and are thrown for a loop.

Maybe it’s time to change my standard response. If people don’t want to hear that I am doing so well perhaps I’ll spring a downer on them. I did a bit of research to determine the world’s most disgusting diseases and their symptoms. I wanted diseases that no one has ever heard of (you can’t impress a cute bartender with something run-of-the-mill like leprosy). I also wanted illnesses with cool names that fairly ooze with pus and mucus, names that inspire shock and awe in anyone not wearing a Hazmat suit.

Necrotizing fasciitis!
A Group A Streptococcal infection, otherwise known as flesh-eating bacteria. It attacks subcutaneous tissue, which then becomes gangrenous.

“My necrotizing fasciitis is killing me. I think my left foot is going to rot off today. How about you?”

Intestinal infestation by beetle larvae or rectal infestation by adult beetles (it’s funny because it’s in your butt).

“Goddamn canthariasis! You don’t happen to have a can of Raid and some KY do you?”

Buruli Ulcer!
Exudes mycolactone which liquefies football-sized gobbets of flesh, fat, and muscle including the face.

“I’m eating for two now. I have a Buruli ulcer.”

Have a nice day!

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