Parrhesia (par-rez’-i-a): Either to speak candidly or to ask forgiveness for so speaking. Sometimes considered a vice.
“I’ve got tell you this: you smell like somebody emptied a septic tank pumper truck on your head. I don’t understand how you can walk around smelling like you do, seeming not to notice it. Come on Ed, go home and take a shower or a bath, or walk through a car wash. It might change your life. I’m your last friend standing, and I’m going to check out if you don’t kill the stench, and soon.” Ed looked at me with tears of gratitude in his eyes. I didn’t understand. Ed said, “Oh my God, thank-you so much for the nose up. Ha ha. About one month ago, I lost my sense of smell. I went to the doctor and he couldn’t find a physical cause. I was sure there was. A week earlier, some weirdo had thrown an acorn squash at me at the community garden. The squash hit me in the forehead, and a couple of hours later, I lost me sense of smell. But my doctor refused to believe that a blow on the head by a thrown acorn squash would have sufficient force to affect my brain’s odor detection abilities. Accordingly, he decided it was all in my head—that I was subconsciously blotting out odors for purely psychological reasons. He speculated that my mother may have had bad breath making me feel like she didn’t love me—she wanted to push me away, or that I had an aversion to Brussels Sprouts. The list of Reasons is long, but they don’t ring true.
As we walked down the street, people held their noses and ran. One elderly woman vomited on the sidewalk. I had stuck two cigarette filters in my nostrils to block Ed’s nauseating smell, but they were leaking through a little. We made it to Ed’s house. He showered, and the stench subsided. As we talked, we determined that neither of us recognized the stench’s origin—it smelled ‘sort of like’ a lot of bad things—human shit, rotting flesh, sulphur farts, durian, and more—but it was none of these. We started to think that maybe some thing had stolen Ed’s sense of smell so he would be an unwitting vector for the “Thing’s” need to dispense his stench. Due to his loss of smell, Ed would’ve been unaware of his stench and puzzled by peoples’ reaction to his presence, while the “Thing” successfully stunk him up.
We decided to stake out the community garden. Chances were that the acorn squash throwing “creature” would strike again. It took a month, but it finally showed up. We had a net. When the stink-maker bent over to pick an acorn squash, we netted him. He didn’t even struggle. As he lay there he started to bubble—you could see it through his clothes—his old worn out overhauls and a beautiful tweed sports coat, and a pair of black Blundstones. He looked like he was starting to boil. Then, he blew a fart that lasted a full minute. You could see it! It was a light blue haze that was almost solid. It quickly blanketed the garden, and then, disappeared. Ed and I had prepared ourselves with Marlboro 27 filters up our noses. Everybody else in the garden ran, cursing, screaming, throwing clumps of dirt at me and Ed and the “Thing.”
“What the hell are you?” I asked. He tore off his human head, that looked a lot like Rudi Guilani. The ripped off head revealed a huge Praying Mantis head that had something approximating a human mouth near the bottom. “I am a Prank Bug. When the ice caps began to melt, I re-emerged. I crafted a man head from mud and moss so I could pass as human. I discovered my vocal chords when I said my first word: ‘Wow.’ I learned English from product labels at the grocery store. I learned to walk by wearing Blundstones and listening to the Four Seasons’ “Walk Like a Man,” first skittering, and then, pulling myself upright and marching around the kitchen wearing my earbuds and Blundstones. I am genetically programmed to make people stink without their knowledge. I fill the air with my mystery stink and throw an acorn squash. The mystery stink masks their sense of smell, and the blow on the head by the squash makes them believe it was that that took away their sense of smell. I am thoroughly entertained by giving them a horrible smell that they can’t smell. It is a prank! And I am a Prank Bug. Ha ha.” “This is totally insane,” I said, “Give Ed back his sense of smell—now!” The Prank Bug told Ed to take out his nose-filter, then, he blew another fart—smaller, softer, green. Ed yelled, “I can smell again!”
After Ed could smell again, we beat the Prank Bug to death. I used a rake. Ed used a hoe. It took about ten minutes to do him in. Right before he expired, a horde of baby Prank Bugs ran out of his overhauls legs. They were making squeaky little farts. Ed said, “They’re going to be Hell when they grow up.” I looked at Ed and said, “I think they already are. I can’t smell my after shave.”
We reported the Prank Bug episode to the police, they laughed, but we noticed there was one cop taking us seriously—he stunk and his colleagues were shunning him. He didn’t know why. “Classic Prank Bug,” I thought to myself. We took the cop to the garden to show him the body. It was gone. I put in my nose filters to have a closer look. I knelt down where we had left him. Suddenly, he sat up from a shallow grave. “Ha ha,” he laughed and blew a light blue mist at me. I started to metamorphosize. I was changing into a Prank Bug! The cop emptied his gun into the resurrected Prank Bug. Then, he reloaded and turned it toward me.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).
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