Regular readers of these dispatches will know — and perhaps bemoan the fact — that I don’t draw the veil over much. But here I do. I draw the veil. I draw the veil, douse the lights, bar and nail shut the door.
What am I talking about?
It doesn’t sound so bad when you use the medical term.
You disimpacted yourself? the doctor asked
Um. Yeah. I disimpacted myself.
There you are. If it’s in the dictionary, it must just be a thing a guy’s got to do from time to time.
But it isn’t. It is a thing you must pray you never have to do, not ever, not once in your entire life.
And here, I am ashamed to say, I quaver a little in my resolve to draw the veil. This because I am so pathologically addicted to painting word-pictures, and the word-pictures I might paint, were I to draw the veil aside, would be worthy of Dante. Indeed, I am surprised that he did not make this, um, procedure a feature of the lowest and foulest circle of hell, as the ultimate punishment for the most heinous sinners of all. It would have been absolutely fitting — absolutely — to condemn the shade of Adolf Hitler, say (had he been a contemporary of Dante’s) to eternal self-disimpaction. Had Dante done that, the relevant pages of all subsequent editions of the Inferno, down to the present day, would be sealed with cellophane, with a bold warning printed on them: Read No Further If Ye Be Weak.
I can only guess that such a thing did not occur to Dante because (lucky man) he had never known the necessity himself, and, even given how supremely imaginative he was, especially where grisly tortures were concerned, this is one he could not dream up.
Speaking of which, if you are damned well determined to know in a more specific way just what bush I am beating about here, go ahead and use your imagination. But, as I said at the outset, you do so at your own peril. By way of guidance, I will say this much, and no more: Look that bland word up — disimpaction — and then think about it for a little bit. While using your imagination (though I still recommend against it) include a bathtub and a naked, crouching figure close to tears. Do not include any implements of any kind. Think only in terms of what would be available to that crouching figure anyway, ready to hand, you might say, however much the part in question might tremble to be put to such a use.
That’s it. I will go no further.
Do you know seppuku, the ancient Japanese suicide ritual required of those who feel they have been dishonored? It is an unspeakably horrendous business, calling for the practitioner to sit, quiet and still, on the floor, while piercing himself at the waist on one side of his body with a very sharp dagger, then pulling the dagger, without rushing, clear across his torso. And then, to do the thing right (this awful act is not finished yet) the wielder of the knife must pull the blade up far enough to be sure that he has completely cut through his intestines. Said proof is provided when his guts begin to spill out, at which point the trusted confederate who has been standing by ends the ritual by decapitating the dishonored party. The Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, often mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize, committed seppuku in 1970, because he felt his country had dishonored itself by allowing its military to be, well, disemboweled.
Well, if ever again (which the heavens forfend) I am faced with the need to disimpact myself, I will choose seppuku instead, with a light laugh and a hey-nonny-nonny.
Now, whether you have figured all this out or not, let us repair to a stone sink to wash for a good long time with scalding water and carbolic soap. And for those of you who did indeed use your imaginations — better go boil those too.
As for why I brought this up at all…
A man can’t go through such a thing by himself.
I hope some day you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.