GFK-PAD

A scratchpad for photographic and literary ideas

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12/11/05

Words from the waking world: The subject in this episode, my cousin, is real. I could tell you that he is fighting cancer but that would be incorrect; he is living with cancer in the same way that he has lived with some of the other things life has thrown at him.

I am in the lunch room at work. It’s a small room with a couple of refrigerators, microwaves, tables and vending machines. There are a few people in the room and one, I am almost sure, is my cousin. He is rummaging in one the refrigerators with his back to me so I can’t be sure.

He takes his food container out fo the refrigerator and as he straightens up I can see that I was not mistaken, he is who I thought he was. Not noticing me, he slides his food into the microwave.

At no point do I interact with anyone, I am merely an observer.

Now seated at one of the tables with a man that I do not know, my cousin reaches into his container of food and removes a buffalo chicken wing that is dripping with sauce. As he bites into the wing a gobbet of sauce squirts onto the man seated with him.

I look closer at the sauce and the chicken wing and notice that there are small clumps of fecal matter in the sauce. There are hunks caught in the creases of the wing…

… and my cousin is eating this!

His tablemate looks down at the sauce that has splashed onto his arm and is sickened by what he sees. He looks at my cousin with disgust but before he can comment, my cousin looks at him and calmly tells him, ” You saw what was here. It was OK for me to eat this but you are appalled when a little gets on you.”

He was calm, almost as if he were speaking to a small child or to someone with learning disabilities. His eyes were sad and seemed to be saying, “Look at me, at all I have been through. Now, tell me that one small speck of the stuff I have had to eat my whole life has so severely offended you and caused you such distress. You sat quietly and said nothing about what I was eating. Why are you so upset when one drop lands on you?”

Although there were few words, there was a strong impact. It was as if these two statements were the kernel that life’s basic truths were built upon and he were a learned master imparting a simple but profound wisdom.

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