Don't Insult My Hemorrhoids

26th February 2021

Who knows why but I was chatting about about my dad’s youth with my boss. I was working in a boutique liquor store and I was stocking empty shelves with wine. “As a teenager, he was rough as guts,” I said to her, my boss. “He grew up in Bassendean, you see.” I was referring to a suburb in Perth which, in the ’70s, was on the outskirts of the city.

“Oi!” a voice behind me bellowed. I turned around and was confronted with a big lady in a tattered sundress. She had hair coming out of her nose and bushy eyebrows in the shape of caterpillars which were now furrowing at me. “I’m from Bassendean,” she said.

I can tell, was my first thought. But whatever confidence there was to begin with quickly fled as the woman’s eyes bulged. I retracted into my bumbling, childish self. “Ah, ah. Um. Well, you know, he lived there in the ‘70s. A long time ago.”

“I’ve lived there since in the ’70s,” she said and tilted her head. “Hmm?”

I didn’t have anything to say to that. What could I say? You’re right. How unjust of me. After all, those nose hairs and frayed hems of yours really scream high-society.

Eventually the woman left, without buying anything. My boss began laughing hysterically in the corner and I continued stacking shelves, muttering expletives.

Obviously my gripe with the caterpillar woman had nothing to do with her hailing from Bassendean. It was that she insisted on taking my comment, which didn’t concern her, personally. She represented the type of cultural sensitivity that makes me scared to even speak poorly of hemorrhoids out of fear of someone storming over and saying,“Oi! I have hemorrhoids.”

“That’s not what I meant,” I’d say, trying to defend myself. “I love hemorrhoids! I’ve always been an advocate for them.”

Despite a great resentment for these types, I always suck up to them, because you know they have the type of first world luxuries that allow them to go on social media and boycott you. Don’t be friends with Jayden, they’d write. He insulted my Bassendean hemorrhoids.

I say first world because life must be pretty swell if one has the energy to get worked up about stuff like that. No one has ever answered the phone and said, “Hi, Dad. What? A tsunamis has swept away everything we have? Hang on, before you go on blubbering, can I call you back? I’m in the middle of lambasting a horrible man who said Bassendean is rough as guts!”

While I was terrified of these sorry victims, my boss at the liquor store wasn’t. She was the type of person who’d tell the Queen of England she had shit stuck in her teeth and proceed to stick her pinky nail in the woman's gums. “Let me get that for you,” my boss would say to her. “Your embarrassing yourself.” As far as social confrontations went, nothing held her back, and I envied her.

Soon after the Bassendean incident, I was carting boxes passed the counter and I overheard my boss and her friend talk about someone called Carol. “Carol is an unfortunate name,” my boss said.

“Right?” the friend said, tapping her card on the Eftpos machine.

I was halfway outside the exit when a voice from behind said, “Oi.”Along with everyone else, I turned around. A lady was at the beer fridge, in front of the non-alcoholic section. “My mum’s name is Carol,” she said.

My boss continued to place her friend’s bottles of wine neatly into a box. “Well,” my boss said, smirking. “She’s a got a shit name then.”

The lady at the fridge didn’t say anything to that. I remained at the counter with my boxes in anticipation. Fight, fight, fight, I chanted in my head, as the lady grabbed an armful of beers, brought them to the counter, paid and, head down, left the shop, saying nothing at all.

. . .

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