I have a constellation of blindspots, mainly because I don’t respond well to physical damage. If something ill should befall my person I simply avoid looking at the site of damage from then on. That body part becomes carne non grata, and I quietly but efficiently erase its name from the front register.
Why have I taken things to this extreme? Because when reading a description about fruit just past ripe is enough to make me feel squeamish how can I be expected to cope meaningfully with the horrors of personal upkeep? I don’t think I’ve seen my teeth since I graduated high school, but people tell me they’re still white. But I’m only realizing now that my capacity for untreated pain is vast simply because my fear of treatment far outweighs a momentary discomfort. Or even minor dismemberment. Avoidance is truly the best medicine, especially if you eventually want to look somewhat like a zombie, which I do.
The year I stubbed my toe was particularly informative. This wasn’t a normal stubbing, where you hop around like Dick Van Dyke for a moment and everyone laughs. This is one of those stubbings where you hear an unfamiliar sound like celery snapping, and your pupils dilate, and your skin loses all its color, and you go silent for the rest of the evening as the party hosts wonder why they invited you in the first place. The first few days after the incident found me gently probing and massaging the remnants of my toe, though I never looked at it. In fact I didn’t catch a glimpse of it until nearly two years later, and then only because someone told me it looked fine. Which is does. Pretty much.
A few weeks ago I forgot the valuable rule of physical conservation (i.e., “Don’t do anything.”) and decided it would be helpful to open a bottle using nothing but a screwdriver and the edge of a concrete step. A few minutes later I could be found in the bathroom, lights off, tearing open the bandaid box with my teeth as I held the pieces of my thumb together with my other hand. I won’t see my thumb again until around 2005.
That’s not to say I’m completely inflexible. If the disfigurement is impossible to hide, and the reaction is likely to be worse than the pain, then I can be coaxed into action. In high school I had my nose severely broken when I turned a corner just as some hall urchins were playing hallway golf. The sound of the ricochet of the ball, to my recollection, was louder than the inter-class bell. The denial response was immediate as I turned down help from the responsible parties, and marched dutifully on to my next class. I was the first one there, and sat alone knowing that something was amiss, but unable to figure out what I should do next. Perhaps nothing then? Excellent choice. I started to remove the books from my bookbag when I realized that I could see my nose through my right eye much more prominently than through my left. “Fuck,” I said, more with resignation than anything else, and marched off to the clinic where I promptly fainted.
So you’ll understand me when I say that the calm I exhibit as I await the day that scientists are able to upload our minds into robot bodies is nothing but pure facade. Get me off this meat bus. Just don’t make me watch when they actually execute the procedure.