Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond
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An Open Letter to the Intestinal Parasites I Managed to Pick Up in West Africa This Summer.
Greetings, Soil-Transmitted Helminths!
Welcome to my digestive system! I hope you’re making yourselves comfy. Judging by the generalized gastrointestinal discomfort I’ve been experiencing lately, I can assume that you are. But I’m really fine, don’t worry about it. Luckily for me, the mental images associated with having hook-mouthed, bloodsucking parasitic worms feasting on my intestinal lining are far worse than any actual physical manifestations of such a condition. So far, anyway. But look who I’m talking to. You guys certainly know better than anyone what’s going on down there. You have front-row seats to Ailea’s Colon Show, by golly! Must be grand.
Anyhoo, just wanted to let you know there are no hard feelings over your unwanted breach of my lower tract. Aside from the occasional cold and a sinus infection once in high school, I’ve never actually had a real disease before, and I think this counts. Well done. This way, at cocktail parties for the rest of my life (or at least until something better comes along), I’ll be able to nonchalantly mention that bout of hookworms I had in West Africa once. People will be intrigued by the suggestion of exotic adventures in my past. They’ll think I’m very interesting and want to be my friends. It might go something like this:
STRANGER AT A COCKTAIL PARTY: These shrimp croquettes are a little overcooked, don’t you think?
ME: Obviously you’ve never dealt with a case of intestinal parasites in post-conflict West Africa!
STRANGER: You’re fascinating.
So, really, you guys are doing me a favor, see? Besides, if we’re honest, it was pretty inevitable that we were going to end up like this, if you think about it. I had a hunch you might be in my future when I learned that people here don’t necessarily use soap to wash dishes, and that human fecal matter often finds its way onto crops as fertilizer, and that most families live without a toilet per se. Who knows? Maybe you crawled in through my foot when I stepped in a puddle on accident, and made the journey to my abdomen by way of my lungs. If so, I admire your ingenuity and persistence, worms, as much as it horrifies me. But all that’s in the past now.
So you don’t hear it from anyone else first, I also wanted to tell you that I’m in the process of looking around for some form of benzimidazole right now. Once I find some, I’m afraid you’ll all be faced with an eviction notice. Sorry to have to break it to you. But if I know nematodes, you guys have been busily doing it in my bowels and whipping up gobs of eggs, probably about 30,000 a day each, I’ve read. So have no fear—your progeny will live on in the puddles and soil of your beautiful nation, and I have every confidence that they will go on infesting the guts of unsuspecting visitors like me for generations. Thanks for all the good times, and goddamn you all and your freaky sci-fi existences.
Your unwitting host,
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