I had the Mother of All Itches the other day in that weird, fantastical place located between the scrotum and the anus, known by you science nerds as the perineum. According to Greek mythology, the Athenian hero Perineus, having stirred the wrath of the goddess Rectavia, ran his ship aground on the inhospitable shoreline between the twin rocks of Ilyciad and the sulfuric depths of Infernus. Centuries later, Plato, with evidently some kind of axe to grind, alluded to him unfavorably in the Allegory of the Cave. He’s the guy chained against the cliff wall just above the cave entrance, with the light of the sun (interpreted as Truth) absconded by overhanging cedars of Lebanon. Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.
Mind you, it was not the archetypal “rectal itch” per se. I wouldn’t waste your time with such a mundane ailment. When no one was looking I slightly bowed my legs and jammed my right hand down the backside of my trousers with the haste and single-mindedness of a greedy schoolboy digging for that evasive plastic-wrapped toy at the bottom of a Captain Crunch cereal box. But unfortunately I dislocated my shoulder in the process and for the life of me just couldn’t move it. Trust me, I am unaccustomed to digging around there in public, except when I become self-conscious of my weight and, oblivious to my surroundings, perform an on-site inspection. While Neanderthals use a scale, I need only fingers and two mirrors to gauge my health. If the butt crack, or gluteal cleft, has become more precipitous, it’s time to hit the gym.
Let’s put aside these important details and go back to my predicament. It’s not a situation you want to be in, especially when you are one of the church ushers about to pass the plate through the pews. I briefly stepped into the foyer, conscious that my arm was virtually submerged into my pants, like an anaconda burrowing into the Amazonian foliage. “Chuck, are you okay?” asked Melissa, our liturgist, who was obviously wondering where I had gone. What’s worse? Trying to explain how my arm disappeared into my new corduroys from Sears or lying? Not being communion Sunday, I lied through my teeth. What could I say? “I’m not feeling well,” I replied, turning the right side of my body from her gaze. With that I ran out to my car; after a heck of a time getting out my keys and stepping into the vehicle, I took off. It wasn’t easy. Later I took solace from Perineus who, according to the poets, faced the perils of his epic voyages with grace and equanimity.