Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pine Tree Man




Do you know about Pine Tree Man?

A Russian man had chest pain and trouble breathing. Initial x-rays indicated a massive tumor. They went in, socialist medicine style, with a hammer and sickle, to find that the giant cancer was in fact a small pine tree growing inside him. He had, in the course of being Russian, inhaled a pine cone spore, and it had taken root in the pink, moist, soft, tissue of his chest.

You go ahead and throw up. I'll wait for you here.

This story has taken root in my consciousness in a way that I can only describe as a non-deciduous manner.

No one likes to hear a story that involves details about things growing inside the human flesh. But dammit if we don't all like to tell them. Insects and their egg sacks planted in your calf muscle. You're welcome.

Oh, and Alien. Best growing-inside-your-body sick-out ever.

But there is something about Pine Tree Man that nails me in the lung butter like no other. Maybe because the first picture I saw of his coniferous invader, it was a full-color image with the sprouted spurs of the pine bud laying like a Tiffany tennis bracelet on the glistening mucus of his pink, meaty insides. He was the human jewel box for an errant seed pod. Oh, barf-nugget of my soul, how you captivate me. How you hold me prisoner.

How petri-dish perfect is the human body that it can actually replicate the deep dark earth of the forest floor? Your lung lining standing in for the dark hummus of things dying. Precious gack-ball of death, just hold me.

Meanwhile, outside, Russian man is thinking, I've swallowed a tree. I am no longer a human, I am an environment. I felt that way when I was pregnant. Like I was a giant oxygen tent for a cluster of cells I would later identify as my family. It doesn't get more Alien than that. But at least, for me, it ended in good-smelling baby skin and soft footie pajamas. This guy, sadly wouldn't produce anything but bloody sputum and a tiny, mutant Christmas tree, suitable, and to scale, for lab rats. Nostrovia.

Yet, the joy. The joy of not thinking, but knowing, you are going to die from this hideous disease, and instead you find that you are the opposite of death, you are life itself. A few antibiotics and some cough syrup later and he's back in the glory of his Russian-ness. Laying low around the spores, I imagine, and thanking his lucky vodka drinks, that he will now die only of ennui and early onset liver-disease.