friend or faux pas

Today, I managed a social error of such profound embarrassment that I could have made Elvis (in his less dignified days) blush.

This afternoon I was handed a South-African version of the inexplicably popular lad mag, “nuts”. It’s tedious, but useful to have a flick through it when you hustle for cash working in mobile media – lowest common denominator being the primary target. In the latter stages of the magazine, once tits and arse had been represented in as many sizes, shades and scenarios as physically possible, I encountered a trivia page.

This commendable educational resource brought to my attention the fact that Stevie Wonder lost his sense of smell in a car crash in 1973. This left young Stevie with only three of the five senses we take for granted.

I initiated a discussion with my colleagues about the limit to which you can cope without fundamental senses. At what point does life become unlivable? Or at least, logistically improbable. I decided that I would still give things a fair go if I only had touch and taste. Assuming you were well cared for, you could still enjoy excellent food and wine, sexual gratification and the pleasant aspects of recreational drugs.

My position on sense deprivation proved quite extreme. Most of the participants in the discussion agreed that life would not be worth living if you were deaf and blind. I put the point that even if you lost your sight and hearing, killing yourself might prove tricker than you might think. My morbid sense of humour then took my tongue on an improvised but lengthy comedic monologue on the difficulties of suicide when you can’t see or hear anything. It ended with me on my feet, miming a deaf-blind person attempting to ask passers-by in the street if the oncoming vehicle is sufficiently proportioned to guarantee an exit from this mortal existence.

And then I remembered my colleague’s father had killed himself by jumping in front of a bus a few weeks prior.


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