Saturday, 7 April 2007

The Suborderly Suicide of Professor B.

B., the Professor of, it might be, Biology from a university in, it might be, the north of England once told me that he wished, much earlier in life, to kill himself. However, none of the familiar methods appealed to him. Some were too violent and he did not wish his terminal act to involve any more personal aggression than he was normally capable of. Some were too elaborate or required access to remote locations. Some required the, perhaps unwitting, collaboration of a pharmacist or physician and the Professor had no wish to lie. Yet others would leave an unsightly mess behind or present his corpse inelegantly. The Professor, vain, courteous, honest, a little lazy, peaceable and profoundly depressed, had no wish for trouble, reasonably, in his darkest hour.

At the restaurant in Soho

He hit upon a solution. He would do away with himself by doing away with a conventional trajectory for his death. Rather than a momentary act of sudden release, he would gradually slip away into self-made terminal illness. He would not induce sickness through drug misuse or cigarette smoking as, conceivably, his money would run out before his life. So, in a brilliant concept, he resolved on every visit to a public lavatory to wipe his finger around the dirtiest bowl and then lick clean.

On the train to London

He became very sick. Profoundly and frequently sick. Persistently feverous, profusely vomiting. His skin became a tapestry of ever changing rashes and sores. His preferred finger and his mouth were always infected along their crevices. But he would not die. He persevered, next visiting toilets in bars on the most disreputable side of an otherwise respectable university town. These toilets were, naturally, the worst in the world. Faeces, piss, vomit, pus, and more were all ingested from the length of his index finger. But still he would not die.

On the train returning to Ipswich

In fact, he was getting better, vomiting less often, rarely feverous. Winter came and he, alone among colleagues in the lab, suffered no seasonal colds, no influenza suspending data gathering at a critical time. Indeed, while rigorously maintaining his thanatic toilet ritual in the now dimmest hope of death, his research career flourished. As it continues to.

In the house in Isleworth

He seems now immune. No virus will go anywhere near him. No bacterium fancies its chances against his antibodies. The Professor’s mood is no better, of course, save for the ironic humour he too can appreciate in his lot. After drinking most of a bottle of brandy, he tells me that he has given up his dirtiest of habits as he fears further ingestion might well secure immortality. And that would never do.


cyberviking said...

Do I know this Prof?

Lui said...

He could always flush himself down here:

Although, I'm not sure of hitherto ironic consequences of such an act...Ending up in Barbados and lie happily ever after?

John Bowers said...

I doubt it cyberviking. Though we may be able to see a little of him in many professors.

Paul Anderson said...

John - It's better in writing than it ever was told over a beer. Clinical. Which is not to knock anecdotage over a beer... See you soon, submerged in marking.