by J J Cohen
We have an ancient tradition at In the Middle of bringing to the occasional Friday more frivil and festivousness than is our quotidian custom. Mentally I am already inhabiting Friday (mostly as a coping mechanism: if I keep telling myself I am not really imprisoned in Thursday I will potentially escape the meetings that are about to devour my day like so many keen toothed piranha). So, let the festivities begin.
Those of you who have spent any amount of time with me in the flesh know that in my ongoing quest to assimilate to ordinary earthly conventions I sometimes employ discussion-breaking questions of the kind that a good diner party host will, just to render the guests convivial: i.e., what is your Proustian food? (thanks to Betsy McCormick for that one). The problem is that I'm not actually good at such things, and have a way of asking something too penetrating or too personal. In New York, for example, I believe I made us go around the table to admit our moment of most extreme humiliation, the one to which instant death was in every way preferable. Or later that evening I asked each person for a credo, a statement of heartfelt belief. I now understand why people generally avoid sitting in propinquity.
But here is an actual question that led to some interesting answers: what is the worst job you ever held?
My answer: In order to afford college I always worked an after-class job. I had a federal work-study grant, but the pickings for such positions were slender when I was a new student. I thought seriously about taking a make your own hours job at the medical center morgue, removing the corneas from cadavers. But what I chose instead was to be the guy who files the various smears of sundry growths removed from the skin of those who came to a dermatology clinic. To this day I know my squamous cell carcinomas from my actinic keratoses. I also have nightmare flashbacks to their purple puss-soaked ooziness.
What about you?