Neil was a bugger for sticking things in his mouth, or up his nose, or in his ears. Always distracted and fiddling with things. And like a zombie when the television was on. Drove his parents mad. Things came to a head when Neil managed to shove an entire shoelace in his ear. Watching television, he was absent-mindedly toying with a shoelace he’d removed from one of his sneakers, poking an aglet into his ear. Before he knew what was happening the aglet at the other end of the lace had disappeared beyond reach into his ear canal. Panicking, he was about to call out for his mother, but then thought better of it, believing that he would be in trouble for putting yet another foreign object into one of his orifices. And as usual, he was soon distracted again by the television and then promptly forgot all about the insertion of the shoelace.
A week later, when on a family holiday to New Zealand, Neil was bundled off to the emergency ward with a terrible ear infection. It wasn’t until the doctor mentioned the word “tweezers” and began pulling the thing out of his ear that he remembered.
His revolted, distraught mother, thinking this horrible stringy monstrosity being unthreaded from her son’s head must be some kind of parasitic worm, later had to admit she had never felt such relief as she did when the doctor pointed out the waxy flugelbinders. Neil, delirious with fever, could only wonder how much trouble he was going to be in.
‘Aglets, Doctor. They’re called aglets,’ said Neil’s mother.
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