A moth goes into a podiatrist’s office, the podiatrist says. What’s the problem?
The moth says, where do I begin with my problems? Every day I go to work for Gregory Vasilovich, and all day long I toil. But what is my work? I am a bureaucrat, and so every day I joylessly move papers from one place to another and then back again. I no longer know what it is that I actually do, and I don’t even know if Gregory Vasilovich knows. He only knows that he has power over me, and this seems to bring him much happiness. And where is my happiness? It is when I awake in the morning and I do not know who I am. In that single moment, I am happy. In that single moment before, the memory of who I am strikes me like a cane and I take to the streets and walk in a malaise here and then there and then here again. Then it is time for work. Others stop asking me what I do for a living long ago. For they know I will have no answer, and will fix my empty eyes upon them, and they fear my melancholia might prove so deep as to be contagious. Sometimes in the dark and the deepest dark of night I awaken my bed and I turn to my right and with horror I see some old lady lying on my arm. An old lady that I once loved, Doc, and whose flesh I once found splendor and now see only decay. An old lady who insults me by her very existence. One stock when I was young I flew into a spider web and was trapped and in my panic I smashed my wings till the dust flew from them but it did not free me and only alerted the spider. The spider moved toward me and I became still and the spider stopped. I had heard many stories from my elders about spiders, about how they would sink their fangs into your cephalothorax and you would be paralyzed but aware as the spiders slowly devoured you. So I remained as still as possible, but when the spider again began moving toward me, I smashed my wing again into my cage of silk, and this time it worked. I cut into the web and freed myself and flew skyward. I was free and filled with joy. But this joy soon turned to horror. I looked down and saw that in my escape I had taken with me a single strand of silk, and at the end of the strand was the spider who was scrambling upward toward me. Was I to die high in the sky where no spider should be? I flew this way, then that. Finally I freed myself from the strand and watched as it floated earthward with the spider. But days later, a strange feeling descended upon my soul Doc. I began to feel that my life was that single strand of silk with a deadly spider racing up it and toward me. And I felt that I had already been bitten by his venomous fangs, and I was living in a state of paralysis as life devoured me whole. My daughter Alexandria fell to the cold of last winter. The cold took her, as it did many of us. And so my family mourned. And I placed on my countenance the look of grief, Doc. But it was a masquerade. I felt no grief for my dead daughter, but only envy. And so I have one child now, a boy whose name is Stefan Mikhailovich Smakovnakov. And I tell you now, doc, with great and deep shame, the terrible truth: I no longer love him. When I look into his eyes, all I see is the same cowardice that I see when I catch a glimpse of my own eyes in a mirror. It is this cowardice that keeps me living Doc, that keeps me moving from place to place, saying hello and goodbye, eating though hunger as long left me, walking without destination, and at night, lying beside the strange old lady in this burlesque of a life I endure. If only the cowardice would leave for the time needed to reach over and pick up the cocked and loaded pistol that lies on my bedside table, and I might finally end this facade once and for all. But alas, the cowardice takes no breaks. It is what defines me. It is what frames my life. It is what I am, and yet I cannot resign myself to my own life. Instead with despair as my constant companion, as I walk here and then there, without dreams, without hope and without love.
Moth, says the podiatrist. Your tale has moved me and it is clear you need help. But it is help I cannot provide. You must see your psychiatrist and tell him of your troubles. Why on Earth did you come to my office?
The moth says: Because the light was on.
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It’s even funnier to watch him tell it. I think there’s a couple youtube clips.
I am transported by the mirth of this telling