Thursday, November 19, 2009


One of the teachers I work with had an eye operation recently, for a detached retina. Today he brought into work the information pamphlet his doctor gave him, which was entitled 'Floaters and Flashes,' which I first read as 'Floaters and Flashers.'

These floaters were not what I thought they were. The pamphlet was about those unwanted bits of stuff that float around in your eye, not in your toilet.

But seeing the title of this pamphlet reminded me of when I first left home. I lived for a short time in an apartment in Wellington, and downstairs from me was a single mother and her daughter. The daughter was five years old, and was my first visitor. We became friends very quickly. She used to come to see me and dress up in my clothes.

One day she ran up the stairs to tell me she had done something amazing.

"Come and see what I did!" she shouted. "Quickly!"

I ran down the stairs, and she took me into the bathroom, over her mother's protests.

"Look!" she said. "I did a big one, and it keeps coming back! Mummy says it's a floater!"

"It's horrible," called her mother, who was sitting at the kitchen table reading a magazine. "And it won't go away. I don't know what to do."

It certainly was a big one. It floated like a fat dumpling in the toilet bowl, and looked far too large to have been produced by a girl so small.

"Are you sure that's yours?" I asked.

"Yes!" mother and daughter chorused, and I'm not sure who was more indignant.

"Watch!" the little girl said, proudly, and flushed the toilet.

The floater turned a few lazy circles and dived languidly. We peered into the swirling water, but it had gone.

"Wait!" she said. "It'll come back! I promise!"

I waited.

Sure enough, after a few seconds the floater peeked slyly round the bend. It wiggled a bit, bobbed back to the surface, and bounced gently. It seemed to have become larger. The little girl laughed with delight.

I don't know how many times we flushed before it finally departed for good. That was a VERY PERSISTENT floater, and an amazing achievement for a five-year-old.

I would have been proud, too.


Shyam said...

That was gross... but so funny! :D

William said...

LOL Nice.

Next time, throw a little bit of toilet paper right on top of it and say goodbye for good.