I named him Gerard. My mother refers to him in the vernacular of a eager grandmother-to-be. There is something instinctively telling me that the life inside of me is male. I’m having dreams about crows, or ducks, or something. My friends are looking at me affectionately, apologetically. I am refusing copious offerings of free alcohol that comes with hanging out with the cool kids. Don’t worry, Gerard, I whisper, sipping my mug of tap water, I don’t love that bloody mary as much as I love you.
You guys, I’m getting emotionally attached to my intestinal parasite.
Ever since my bowels betrayed me about three and a half weeks ago, the fact that I managed to contract a flagellated protozoan parasite has been a source of great discourse and entertainment. Gerard has become a fully-developed, raw, and vulnerable character that graces conversations over dinner. He has weaknesses and desires. He’s a super relatable guy. As I sip my chicken broth and nibble on a cafeteria breadstick, Gerard appears as a manifestation of Ridley Scott allusions and crude character voices that sound like the lovechild of a Ferby and that MPR reporter with the creaky voice. And it’s hilarious. Everybody loves him. In fact, Gerard has propelled me into new and exciting social territories. He’s the perfect wingman. He’s an expert conversationalist. He knows how to turn heads.
I was sitting in the library the other day, tapping away at my laptop and loudly explaining the ins and outs (mostly outs) of the generations of single-celled organisms currently procreating in in my lower intestine. As humor is a coping mechanism widely relied on by folks when they are pissing out of their ass, I cupped my hands in claws against my belly button, and wiggling them as manically as possible, I croaked, “FEED ME, SEYMOUR, FEED ME!” And as my friend choked on her coffee with laughter, a girl sitting across the room who had been side-eying me throughout the conversation pulled out her headphones and shot me an outrageous smile.
I turned my head in her direction and apologized for being so crude in a public place. “Hah,” I shrugged, “I guess this isn’t the best way to make new friends!” But I knew that Gerard had succeeded again. My awesome new friend walked over to me and introduced herself. She told me that, oh my god, she got giardia when she was in Asia and oh my god, let’s bond over how much that sucked.
Giardia: 1. Traditional Socialization: 0.
And even though Gerard has forbidden me to drink alcohol lest he lay a track of dynamite in my loins (the google tells me that this is serious business), I’ve forgiven him, because being the only sober one at sloppy, sloppy parties is actually really okay. In fact, I have had more engaging social interactions with strangers than ever before. When tall-boy-man-with-beard is looking at me with that “why is that girl drinking a capri sun at this rager” expression on his face, I know that Gerard is doing what he does best. “I have an intestinal parasite that’s preventing me from displaying proper twenty-something behavior!” I yell across the dance floor, dancing with my elbows and knees in a way that evokes a Zooey Deschanel character or a physical therapy patient. And tall-boy-man-with-beard comes running! Seriously! And just when I start thinking that this night couldn’t get any better, a friend of mine wraps his arms around my waist and promises that as soon as I get better, he’s going to make me a cocktail that tastes like a blue-raspberry dum dum sucker.
And as delicious as that sounds, I know that day will be a melancholy one. Soon, the drugs will kick in and Gerard will go to flagellated protozoan parasite heaven and I will be left with a fully-functional digestive tract and a social life that relies entirely on my own devices. But because of Gerard, I am forever changed. Not only will I, from this day on, live in perpetual fear of water not from an Aquafina bottle, but I will remember the past four weeks as the time when my social life peaked. And when I lost 15 pounds without doing anything.
In conclusion, you should go out and get an intestinal parasite as fast as you can.