It is said

- and don't quote me on this, because I certainly haven't exactly quoted the original saying so much as cobbled together a rough gist of the sentiment -

that if we were all given an opportunity to exchange our problems with others, we would all walk away with our own.

In 2006 this led, in the true spirit of scientific investigation and entrepeneurial can-do, to the First Annual Problems, Troubles, Woes and Annoyances Swap Meet (FAPTWASM). Of course, I had to go.

On the first day I merely browsed other people's problems. Some of them were pretty out-there. At one point I saw Ricky Lake actually beat a Jerry Springer crew member with a microphone in a bid for exclusive coverage. And then there as this one guy whose main problem was pink snot. I know. He ended up swapping with a girl who had blue snot.

On the second day I decided to take a different tack. I set myself up in the corner of one of the satellite tents and proceded to hawk my goods. Or my bads, as it were. I was rather hoping to give my troubles away to someone who wanted a gift for their cheating ex, possibly in return for Being So Gorgeous And Intelligent People Sometimes Find Me Intimidating.

Around lunchtime this guy came up to me. He looked about 45, although his face was so weathered it was within reason to think he might be as young as 30, or as old as 52. He wore a wide-brimmed hat, which was frayed and tattered, and a set of clothes which were ground with dirt. He looked at me for a moment, and then pointed to my wares with his chin.

"What you got?" he asked.

"Infertility," I answered. "Male Factor."

He nodded, and prodded it thoughtfully with his foot.

"I think that's it," I added, "but it's only fair to warn you we haven't been tested exhaustively."

He shrugged a littled and mused, his head to one side.

"I mean, we haven't had any tests done for DNA breakage or anything. Or immune problems which may cause recurrent miscarriage."

"Ever had asthma?" he asked.


"Funny. Lotta folks have."

I paused slightly at this apparent non sequitur.

"Anyway, I thought it was fair to warn you. I even heard of a woman who, despite a half-dozen IUIs and a whole lot of pelvic ultrasounds, didn't know she had a thin uterine septum until they did a hysteroscopy. And then there's all the things they can't quite explain..."

The sudden and explosive throat-clearing of my wizened customer brought a stop to my train of conversation. I ceased, and looked up at him. At length, he looked up at me.

"You know what your problem is?" he asked.


"You read too much. You ask too many questions. You spend too much time thinking. That's your problem."

For a while we just stayed there. Staring at each other, like players at poker. Til at last, I folded.

"Thanks," I said, gathering up my stuff. "I'll keep it."


Vee said...

You shouldn't have warned him, you weren't warned ! That way he would have to read too much and ask many questions and think a lot !

Then maybe I have the same problem.
So nobody would want to swap with me either ;)

Bea said...

Hmmm... well it seems in my fantasies I am honest to a fault (LOL).

Just another Jenny said...

First Annual Problems, Troubles, Woes and Annoyances Swap Meet (FAPTWASM) - I have heard of this done in seminars about leadership. Sometimes when my friends think infertility is no big deal I often think that they certianly wouldn't give up there children and swap me for there problems.

Bea said...

Hmm, leadership seminars. I guess that makes sense.

And No Siree to the second comment. There's an awful lot I'd swap to be in the position of someone with children at the moment.


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