She keeps saying, “Neti Pot” and it’s all I can do to not scream and cover my ears.

Neti pot. Neti pot. Neti pot.

It’s every fifth word. Every fourth. I want to make her stop saying it, but her hospitality keeps me quiet.

Neti pot.

And now she’s describing how it works. And now she’s describing how it doesn’t work. And now she’s demonstrating how it works. And now and now and now.

She leaves and comes back with the Neti pot. It’s in a small box. It’s out of the small box. I want to get up. I want to leave. Saline solution. Warm Water. Fill levels. More demonstrating. Nostrils. Head tilt. Nasal cavity. Flow. Drip. Flow.

I cringe and hold back my real face. The one hiding under the nice face. I sip my drink. I eat a cracker. I eat a piece of cheese. My real face is begging her to please stop saying it. Please stop. I don’t want to hurt you. Please. Stop.

I am on the verge of. I know what that means now. I know I will now be able to sympathize with certain horrendous news stories. I will whisper, “Neti pot,” after I read them and then try to fold the paper away without tearing it apart with clawed hands.



Roxane Gay