I have a bad habit. When someone asks how I’m doing I say, ‘Pretty good’, and then a second later I look up at them and correct myself: ‘Actually, pretty shit’. Usually, they chuckle uneasily; sometimes they adopt a look of concern and ask me why. That always makes me laugh. Why? Why the hell not?
I’m trapped in this disgusting flesh-tomb we call a human body. I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s pretty much a never-ending horror-show. I wake up every morning dog-tired, sore-headed, and desperate for a piss. My broken ankle — which, according to the Israeli doctor I saw over the summer, has healed entirely — still plagues me with persistent aches and shooting pains. (It gets worse on rainy days, too; but luckily we don’t have many of those here in Scotland.)
My irritable bowel syndrome, a gift from my grandfather, has made every tentative foray outside my flat an exercise in strategic planning: life broken up not by memorable moments or developmental milestones but a series of visits to the W.C. It’s how I experience travel, too: a hole in the floor in Marrakech, a surprisingly modern Japanese-style commode in Yangon, a gag-inducing stall at the New York City Port Authority.
It’s not like I’m asking for it, either. I really do try to take care of myself. I go to the gym six days a week, I’ve joined the Boxing society, and I make an effort (though often fail) to eat healthily. I’m sure my ankle will heal eventually, too; maybe that Israeli doctor was overly-optimistic in his assessment of it, or maybe I just didn’t understand him properly (his English was almost as bad as my Hebrew — and I don’t speak Hebrew).
Nor is this to say that being a human is without its particular delights: the first bite of a good piece of steak, being just sloshed enough but not too much so, the sadistic pleasure of handing a nervous teen his first cigarette. And hey — maybe it won’t be like this forever. Sure, my gastroenterologist said they’d have a cure for IBS three years ago and nothing has yet materialised, but capital-S Science is always astonishing me with some stunning breakthrough or other. When my grandfather was a young pup, syphilis was a gruesome death-sentence; today, it’s an embarrassing visit to the sexual health clinic.
But that’s thinking small. I’m optimistic about a moment in the not-so-far future when I’m able to upload my consciousness directly into the capital-C Cloud. On the tails of Google’s recent unveiling of a working quantum computer, it doesn’t sound so far-fetched anymore. I only pray it happens soon: I’m almost out of Immodium, and I can see storm clouds gathering outside my window. I’m cautiously penciling myself in for a 2025 singularity. Hopefully, my desperate faith in the essential goodness of massive, faceless international conglomerates is not misplaced.
In the meanwhile, I’m off to Madras College with a pack of Camel Blues.