Sunday, March 8, 2015


After six years of blogging here on Fugger, I think it's time I told you about my uncle Dan and his embarrassing complaint. He fell over when he was doing a bit of gardening and landed arse first on a garden gnome. The thing split through his pants and went right up his arse crack. Pointy hat first. It really must have hurt. It got lodged there.

A proud man, Dan decided never to speak of the gnome or its whereabouts. The complaint was too embarrassing to address. He didn't fancy a humiliating trip to a health professional. A doctor might presume the ornament had arrived at its location via some bizarre act of gratification. The truth would never be believed. Dan barely believed it himself so he thought he'd just keep it to himself. He was a bachelor so he had no wife to shock when he took off his britches at night. 'No one will notice', he said to himself. 'What difference will it make?' he fooled himself.

Dan accepted the compromises his predicament brought him. Going to the toilet was complicated. Cycling was a no no. The very act of sitting down was, forevermore, out of the question. People would insist that Dan take a seat but he'd say that he preferred to remain standing. This made people feel uneasy at dinner parties and so on but they weren't as uneasy as Dan, living his life with a ceramic interloper nestled in his rear.

Although permanently on his feet, Dan could no longer stand quite straight. His posture was at a slight angle to the world. This made him feel as if he was at an existential angle to the world also. He saw other people, everyone else, go about their garden gnomeless lives, working and loving and fulfilling goals. And there he was, unable to even go swimming lest someone spot the wee man's boots protruding from his posterior. Dan felt as if he had been cast into the lowest of castes. He was an untouchable. No one could ever truly know him because they did not know the truth of his situation. Despite it all, Dan remained unprepared to risk revealing his plight in case it brought derision. Better to silently suffer with some dignity than be the subject of mockery. Concealing his degradation, Dan walked the streets with his head held high ...and with a bowlegged gait.

After a few years, Dan could no longer bear to attend social gatherings. The fact that he had a garden gnome up his arse increasingly weighed upon him. The thought of it was always there, gnawing, mocking, eroding his peace of mind. Dan started to suspect that others had noticed the gnome and were making snide remarks and innuendos at his expense. He would mishear things. Words like 'home' or 'roam' or 'comb' would be misinterpreted by his paranoid ears and he would hear the word 'gnome'. Then he would explode. 'What did you just say?' he would furiously demand of confused friends and acquaintances. Dan realised that his situation was having a knock on effect. It was spreading out from himself and hurting those around him.

Dan became a recluse. He had no choice. His became the most solitary of stations. Dan attempted to take some solace in the supposedly 'small' things in life. He tended his garden, even though it had betrayed him. He fed birds. He stared at clouds. He kept the company of animals and plants and things that could not judge him. He attempted to cultivate a kind of Zen philosophy but it didn't work out. 'How many covertly carry crosses as large as mine?' he often wondered as he saw the people of his town happily interacting. It was such a fool's bargain, the suffering of isolation Dan had chosen to endure was worse than any suffering public embarrassment could cause.

The decades passed and Dan never took a wife or pursued a career. His only achievement was keeping his stigma a secret. It was on his death bed that Dan confessed all this to me. I did not snigger as I lent my ear, although I'm sure I looked pretty shocked. After Dan said what he had to say he closed his eyes and went. He seemed more at peace than I had ever seen him. They took him from the hospital bed and no one mentioned the gnome up his arse. It wasn't out of respect that no one mentioned the gnome. No one mentioned it because it wasn't there. It must have fallen out some time previously, perhaps years before and Dan never noticed. Who knows how long there wasn't a garden gnome stuck up Dan's arse? Who knows how long Dan had laboured under his misapprehension? Turns out that the only place the gnome was stuck was in Dan's imagination.

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