My Third Nipple

By Nathan

Dear Doctor,

I realize that this sounds like a relatively minor problem, but my third nipple is starting to ruin my life.  I know, it is only a third nipple, and to be honest almost no one ever sees it, but still it is a problem.  It isn’t really the blood red nipple on my chest that is the problem; it is more how I came to have it.

 I was standing around rather calmly at the Nakba Day protest at Beit Hanoun, the Israeli’s were shooting kids by the dozens.  After a particularly large volley of fire rang out I felt like I was punched in the chest.  I assumed , I think rather logically, that I had been shot.  I also assumed, rather logically, that getting shot in the chest by a sniper was fairly likely to be deadly. I started to black out, my vision collapsed to that little black point before you go unconscious, stumbled against the chain link fence next me, and like it is always seems to in these moments, time slowed to a crawl.  My vision came back, I looked down at my chest, didn’t see any blood, strange.  Waited a second, expecting that maybe the blood just hadn’t started to pour out, thought how glad I was that it wasn’t more painful, it stung, but all in all not so bad.  Waited, still not much blood, decided to lift my shirt and see how bad it was.  Not bad at all, just a small circle of blood.  Cautiously put my finger into the blood, no hole, that was quite good.  The problem is, that I had always imagined myself having rather more heroic thoughts as I died, generally I had thought that I would quickly review my life, lament some lost loves, remember all the things that I wish I had said to people, regret some of the things I had or hadn’t done.  Instead, I really just found myself wondering why there wasn’t more blood and wondering when it would come.  Turns out that they had shot the kid next to me, or maybe not, I probably wasn’t in the best position to judge what had happened.  His face was covered in blood, and he seemed to have a hole in his cheek, but I’m pretty sure he lived, and it is hard to imagine anyone surviving being shot in the face.

Looking back, I’m struck by the fact that 100 and some people were shot at the demonstration, but I don’t remember any of them screaming.  They mostly just collapse to the ground, or onto the nearest person, their face goes white, you can see the fear, but they never seem to scream.  Strange.  Even the kid next to me who was shot in the leg, you could clearly see that the leg was smashed through his jeans, it looked like the worst broken led in the world, no screaming.  The one good thing about being in a crowd while snipers shoot into it is that it is remarkably unscary.  There really isn’t anything you can do, they will either shoot you or they won’t, so you just wait for fate.  I always find it much harder to face the soldiers face to face, something about looking down a rifle barrel into someone’s eyes is much more terrifying than just being shot at. 

All of my Walter Mitty fantasies are destroyed in Palestine.  Before coming here, I could always imagine myself displaying great physical courage, thinking heroic thoughts while I died.  After being here, I have to admit, I lack physical courage, and if my third nipple is any indication, my dying thoughts probably won’t manage to be so heroic.  You might think that standing in crowd while snipers shoot the kids around you takes courage, but it really doesn’t, the whole thing is so absurd that you aren’t really scared.  The first time I was here, when the settler told he me was going to get his gun and shoot me in the face I was scared.  My knees shook.  I kept hoping that he wouldn’t really get his gun out of the trunk of his car.  No such luck.  I really wanted to run away, back into the village, but the farmer behind me didn’t run, and I couldn’t run until he did.  How would I possibly explain to my 6 year old friend Diana that I ran while her grandfather stood his ground?  Sigh, you always hope that you will actually be courageous, not just afraid of the embarrassment of running. 

Outside of the third nipple, life here is alright.  As usual I have discovered the way to be liked by all of the farmers while doing as little work as possible.  The secret is to launch yourself into harvesting wheat as soon as you get to the field.  With my patented gloves of wheat (I feel so kung fu) strategy I am as fast as most of the women here. The other foreigners will be standing around moaning about the fact that it is six am and they are tired.  Before you actually have to harvest very much wheat, the Israelis will start shooting, this is my excuse to stop harvesting wheat and yell rather ineffectually with the bullhorn at the remote control gun they use to shoot at the farmers that we are obviously farmers harvesting wheat and seem quite unlikely to be an armed group storming the border.  Thankfully, the Israelis aren’t stupid either, they usually just shoot around us.  I actually give the Israelis a lot of credit.  They are masters of making any horror routine enough that it stops being news.  Demolishing a village?  It is so old news, they have been doing it regularly for 63 years, what is one more village?  Shooting unarmed demonstrators from giant concrete towers, so 1987. The Israelis have normalised brutality to such an extent that they can carry it out with impunity.