I once had an orange fungus of some sort growing on my armpit hair. Gross, I know, but true nonetheless. I had spent a week hitching around Yemen, riding in the backs of Hilux pickup trucks across the flat coastal desert plain called the Tihama. Sometimes my truckmates were bipeds, sometimes quadripeds, sometimes an assorted mixture. They were always mammalian and always quite aromatic, as was I. The temperature in the Tihama broke 115 fairly regularly and I had only the one set clothes on my back for the entire week.
On day eight of my jaunt I woke up on the living room floor of a smalltime sheik in a market town called Bait al Faqui. To this day I am not sure exactly what made me take off my shirt and look at my underarm. But I did. And I promptly did a full-on Hollywood double-take. If I had been drinking milk I would have spit it all over the room. There, lining each shaft of my armpit hair, was a fuzzy orange growth that was simultaneously alarming and really cool.
The unbearably hot and humid weather in New Haven this week made me remember that trip and that fungus. I guess it’s true—every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.