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The cheese stands alone.

—From “Farmer in the Dell,” nursery rhyme

Spelunking into the shame cave, are you?
Don’t beat yourself to death with a headlamp.

That? That’s a cut from a stalagmite.
They’ll reach out and getcha.
If you swim too low, too slow, too something you don’t know.

And don’t swim fast, either.

It’s one thing to explore a cave, any old cave.
With a hole to the outside world, where you go in and out.

It’s quite another thing to swim underwater into a cave.
A cave within a cave.
That’s a dive, and it’s dangerous.

People drown in there.
At least, that’s what I believe.
Divers do survive; I know a few of them personally.
They claim that no one has actually drowned in the shame cave.
That when you slip through the hole, and come up through the cold black water, you’re not in another cave at all. You’re in the sunlight and the water is warm.

I met a guy once, who taught scuba diving in the Caribbean. He was saying that even warm water can be hideous and oppressive if you spend your whole life in it. He was a negative guy, a real downer. He wore sunglasses all the time. I never saw his eyes.

We love control. We hate being alone. We like to decorate.
We fetishize food. And dainty little soup tureens, and napkin holders.

Everything in its right place; I am god of my dinner party.
But it’s such a mess, afterward, the tablecloth stained with wine.