It’ll grow back. If you are lucky, there will probably be a period in your life when you believe this, or anyway do not stop to consider the inexorable perils of smoking two packs of cigarettes and running ten miles in the same day, or jumping off that cliff, or piercing and puncturing and pummeling yourself, and cutting your own hair and seeing a better looking reflection in the mirror every morning despite everything. Nothing is forever: the entire human body replaces itself, cell by cell, over a period of seven years, which is more or less how long many of us are at our indestructible worst. Before that comes such a tumult of morphing and molting and protruding it’s a wonder we can even recognize ourselves sometimes, but we learn a little peace, have a few good years between slipping off our parents’ health insurance policy and remembering to get one of our own, snap a couple of ligaments we didn’t know we had, and spend the rest of our days forgetting not to worry.
Hypochondria’s funny that way – no less rational for seeming cartoonish – whether we know nothing whatever about the workings of the body or we finally know too much. In Tedd Arnold’s Parts a boy considers the evidence – teeth coming lose, skin peeling, fuzz sticking out his belly button, chunks flying out of his nose - and wonders if “The glue that holds our parts together isn’t holding me.” Crazy, right? But is it really any weirder than electrical charges streaking across millions of unknowable channels so we can even lift a finger? Than the Armageddon that is happening every second inside us between microbial intruders and predatory ectomorphs blobbing around like a vision from Star Trek? Than the thousands of useful parasites that are nevertheless permitted to remain? We are teeming, teetering ecosystems apparently. Impossible, when you think about it. And really, really gross.