A sort of life

The ‘Bum Effect’

PERTH, Australia — It seems that lately I’ve been fascinated with small things. Seemingly insignificant things. Just the other day when I was getting out of the shower, I stumbled across something small — and yet, a discovery of magnificent proportions, if you will. And no: I’m not talking about that. I made that discovery a while back. What I’m talking about is what should be referred to ever after as the “Bum Effect”.

I discovered the Bum Effect while using a cotton swab to clean out my ears, as I happen to do on a regular basis — more or less. Amazingly, my left ear had more sap in it than the other. Substantially more. For a whole week, every single day, that ear consistently had more sap, more crusty bits than the other. Every time.

At first, I just chalked it up to my swabbing technique. I’m right-handed, and so it follows that I would be more adept at using my right-hand to scrape out my left ear juice. But then I realized that I use my left-hand to the job. There had to be some other explanation.

And that’s when it hit me.

I, ladies and gentlemen, am a Bum. I lay around on my couch all day, watching television, eating chips and drinking beer. And it just so happens that my couch is positioned in such away as to allow my left ear to accumulate more earwax. It’s the Bum Effect.

So: I will run more tests in the coming weeks. I will run more studies. More control groups. A scientific endeavor to see if there are other contributory symptoms of the Bum Effect. I urge great caution on the citizen couch surfers — please, we must not act in haste. However, if you discover that you have this uneven earwax symptom, I suggest you get outside and run some laps or something.

Update | Nov. 30, 2010: Nearly eight years later and the Bum Effect can finely be confirmed. My careful scientific inquiry determined that there is a positive correlation between the ear pushed against a pillow or couch cushion and the quantity of wax buildup in the ear. There was no evidence to suggest a correlation between earwax quantity and the channel tuned on the television at the time of observation. Please read the complete study findings in “The correlative effect of a sedentary lifestyle on the accumulation of cerumen in the Homo sapiens external auditory meatus.”

“The ‘Bum Effect’” is from Volume One: Frank’s Wild Years (1983–2009). Written between 2003 and 2009, Volume One was this author’s attempt to find meaning from life as a young twenty-something. While this endeavor would ultimately fail, what remains is a comical tale of loneliness and debauchery.

Bleeding burgundy and gold

Bleeding burgundy and gold

Dan Brenner beams after surviving a punch to the nose by an angry Philadelphia fan at FedExField in Landover, Md. on December 12, 2004. Washington lost the game 17-14.

At first, I just chalked it up to my swabbing technique.