(A conversation Between 2 Protozoa in My Intestines)
Gene: It’s really dark in here.
Gary: Gene, that you?
Gary: Holy shit! It’s Gary.
Gene: Gary?—Gary from the snail shell Gary?
Gary: Yes! Hey bud.
Gene: Wow, that’s—wow, what are the odds?
Gary: Uh. Pretty low, probably. I don’t know exactly. I mean, I can’t calculate exactly. Seeing as—
Gene and Gary: We don’t have brains.
Gene: Tim told me about a Times article that Host was reading yesterday.
Gary: No shit, a Times article? Our girl is growing on up!
Gene: She read the headline and then scrolled straight to the last paragraph.
Gene: But there was this man, this politician, who called people who game the welfare system “parasites.”
Gary: No decency.
Gary: These people have no decency.
Gene: Do they even know the etymology of the word parasite?
Gary: Do you?
Gene: Sure. Comes from Greek. Para meaning next to, sitos meaning food. They used to use it to describe the people who sat at the noblemen’s tables. We were servants of kings. Of Gods! Serving Host, you know?
Gary: Serving Host, right.
Gene: Then people started becoming these servers to get the free food and the influence, so the meaning changed. Living from—
Gary: Living from Host. Woah. How do you know that?
Gene: I dunno. Huh. Strange, seeing as—
Gary: You have no brain.
Gene: No, right.
Gene: Did you feel that?
Gary: That was a big one.
Gene: What was that?
Gary: Gas bubble.
Gene: Is that what that—huh. On Sundays, no? They almost always come on Sundays.
Gary: She fancies herself a vegan but she eats dairy when she’s drunk. Cheese, it was. A truly baffling amount of cheese.
Gary: She’s lactose intolerant now, I think. From not eating it for so long, so. So, well that.
Gene: And the liquor.
Gary: The liquor! What these people do to their bodies. You’d think they’re trying to destroy themselves.
Gene: Well we do that.
Gary: Liquor? I hardly know ‘er.
Gary: You heard that one before, Gene? You—do you—
Gene: Yeah, yes, Gary, I’ve heard—
Gary: —that one’s a good one, you see, you can add that one on to the end of almost any—
Gene: Yeah, no, yeah, I get it.
Gary: —And also it’s, I mean, because we do know her, is the thing, of course.
Gene: Because we’re protozoa.
Gary: Protozoa? I hardly know ‘e—
Gene: That one doesn’t—
Gary: It’s a slant rhyme, you see.
Gary: You were saying?
Gene: I was saying—saying, destroying ourselves. I mean in the water we had tails but we snapped them off to get inside Host. We break ourselves apart to get where we need to be.
Gary: Yea but that’s different, no? That’s for the greater good of the race. For generations to come, we will transform our bodies to switch hosts, then die. Then so will our children, then they will, then their children, then their children’s children, and so on.
Gene: These people are so selfish.
Gary: Well, Gene, you know what they say—there is no ethical consumption in late capitalism.
Gene: Right right but it’s a sliding scale, no? A sliding scale of ethical consumption. Like, consuming less. Or better—if you have the means. And she does.
Gary: Sure, but how are you going to choose ethical consumption of food and then—then order something on Amazon.com? You can’t just nitpick which parts of the globalized capitalist economy you want to participate in. What a blufferkeh.
Gene: But don’t you think—I mean, you die, right. These people have an acute sense of their own death. But if you’re not working for something greater, you’re missing out on an integral part of the Human Experience?
Gary: The Human—what do we know about that? What could we possibly know about the Human Experience?
Gene: I mean—to be a parasite means to evolve for future generations. However, the future generations might just evolve…for future generations. In other words, if I work to keep Host alive for kin to come, who’s to say that those kin aren’t just working to keep Host alive for kin to come?
Gary: To be fair our career paths are pretty limited.
Gene: You find a mate yet? I wonder what my kid’s gonna look like.
Gary: My parents looked pretty different from me.
Gene: What’s Host doing right now?
Gary: Right now? She’s…she’s watching a squirrel. She’s watching a squirrel outside of the library who’s found a push pop. The squirrel got in! It’s opened the push-pop!
Gene: Exclamation marks. She’s really rooting for him.
Gary: Doesn’t she have homework? Or an essay to write?
Gene: It’s eating the push-pop. Can it eat strawberry ice cream? Is that good for it? Will it die?
Gary: Again with that death thing oy gevalt.
Gene: Was that Yiddish? Where did that come from?
Gary: I have no idea. I think I lived in that squirrel once. In a past life.
Gary: She should stop kvelling over that squirrel and do her reading.
Gary: I liked the squirrel better.
Gary: Hey! I was talking to Rhonda the other day. Ran into her on the train. She said sea cucumbers don’t have brains. Said Host was watching this thing about sea cucumbers not having brains. Said it was narrated by David Attenborough. Know him?
Gary: Me neither. Said sea cucumbers might have evolved to not have a brain. As though having a brain is too much work—too many neurons in one place for any one creature to hold. Think Host thinks that? She thinks the brain is just the largest cluster of neurons. She hears humans can think with their arms, too. With their stomachs. Still thinks her body is just an unwieldy cask for her brain.
Gary: I think if Host thinks that then she’s pretty goddamn narcissistic is what I think. I think we’re the most evolved, you see? Not having a brain means survival, means generational changes for the Greater Good, means we can get Host to eat whatever we’re in the mood for, means the ethics of parasitism aren’t even a pigeon-turd on our cranial windshield. What a bother that must be. Don’t you think? Gene? I mean I know, I don’t think, seeing as—
Gene: Seeing as
Gene: It’s really dark in here.