The Tapeworm

I have a tapeworm. I don’t know where it came from or why it’s here, but it has burrowed its way into the bowels of my apartment. Unlike its intestinal cousin, this tapeworm is not an actual worm, although I am convinced that it belongs to the family sidus vermis foraminis, or space wormhole, because of its unique, space-time properties.

These properties, and the trickster consciousness behind them, have been toying with me ever since my move to California became a reality, a move that I am now engaged in fully. “What in God’s name is he going on about this time?” you ask.

Here’s what I am going on about. I lead a simple life. I don’t own a car, television, Apple watch, video game, or Alexa. I live in a one-bedroom walk-up and rarely eat out. I don’t use up things, either. I still have a can of shaving cream I bought in Italy twenty years ago. My three-speed Schwinn is forty years old. I can show you the owner’s manual if you’d like.

Some might call that eccentric. I prefer to think of myself as “disinterested,” which is a Jesuit-inspired trait that prevents me from becoming too focused on material goods. Those who teach marketing may be shaking their heads at this, but disinterest has helped me stay unattached to things. In fact, I have tried smoking more times than you’d believe, but it has never stuck. Too bad; I like smoking.

This is a problem, because I am packing boxes in preparation for the movers and have had to make three extra trips to Rite Aid for packing tape. Each time, I buy multiple roles yards and yards long. Now, I have to do it again. Thank God Rite Aid is half a block away and open all night. This time, I will look for the biggest, longest, sturdiest role of packing tape they have. It will be the “Mother Of All Packing Tape” (MOAPT) and will send the tapeworm, as it were, packing.

Do not mock me. My possessions are already doing so, and I do not need more ridicule. They scamper out of dressers, closets, cupboards, every dust-filled recess in my apartment, and from underneath sinks. They devour the tape, which I yank out of the serrated, red dispenser at arm’s length in screeching, furious movements as I stuff my valuables into cardboard boxes, also serrated, and wrap them.

Through another trick of the cosmos, the more I sell, donate, or throw out, the more I accumulate and the greater the need for more boxes and tape. Nothing can stop this tapeworm. Soon, it will grow so big that it will ooze out of my kitchen window onto the fire escape and envelop the apartment below à la The Blob. What’s going on here?

I’ll tell you what’s going on. The only plausible explanation is that I am living in the Twilight Zone. I know this, because something cannot come from nothing. It has to come from something else, which is a concept dating back to Parmenides (515 BC) and the pre-Socratics. The tapeworm cannot devour more and more tape even as I reduce my possessions to as few as possible. It is a logical impossibility unless, of course, you believe the tapeworm to be of supernatural origin.

How could it not be? And since I am a believer in the visible and invisible–why else would it have embedded itself in my apartment in the first place?–I have to get rid of it through preternatural means. There can be no other cure. Otherwise, one day they will find my mummified body wrapped in enough packing tape to reach the moon and back.

How will I do this? Through disinterest, of course, which means I have to let the tapeworm have its way and use up an entire Rite Aid warehouse of packing tape if it so desires. Or, at least, I have to convince the tapeworm that I am disinterested. Maybe if I don’t look at it directly. Or whistle. Then again, I could play dirty and come back with duct tape instead. At this point, I’m not beyond playing hard to get. It might be time for a nap.

Feature image by Matt Haggerty on Unsplash. Tape by Maret Hosemann from Pixabay. Cardboard by Thanks for your Like from Pixabay. For more, go to Robert Brancatelli. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance, which promotes “alternatives to software, culture, and hardware monopolies.”


  1. Tapeworm? Byccicle? You say prey tell. Instead keep it simple.. Dr. Campbell has a gift thats able to decipher 2+2? George…. Gotta stop eating there no matter how certified.. No sure if it was accidential or…..the obvious! Stranger than true.

  2. The Tapeworm; I love it!!! I’m wondering how many miles of your journey your tape might cover:). I am at a point in my life in which I crave space of all kinds. I don’t get much of a chance to use boxes and tape because as soon as I give things away, I have a friend who haunts the thrift shops, searching for things she believes “I need.” However, everything seems to balance. A neighbor without documents became angry and put his fist through the bathroom door in his father-in-law’s house (where he was living), while his father-in-law was at work. Jaime stopped by to ask me what he should do if his father-in-law called immigration. Ever creative, Jaime solved his problem. He asked if he could remove our bathroom door and borrow it for a few days, which he did! Does this count for being disinterested?

    1. If he’s putting his fist through a bathroom door, there are more serious problems than disinterest, but, yes, I think on your part it does count. Again, it’s all Twilight Zone…

      1. Space, breathing room… You know, it’s funny; in one of my earlier nine lives, I took a time out from university teaching, to help a friend make her retirement dream real. My friend had been a psychologist in a private psych hospital all of her professional life. Trudy bought a “fixer-upper” motel in the middle of rather undeveloped desert. Her dream was to open a home for adolescent schizophrenics that offered treatment and an opportunity to practice living skills doing the work of a 12 unit motel. Recently, I’ve been remembering all of the times our clients would put all their furniture and everything else outside of their rooms. At the time, it was simply more work for me:). But, I think I get it now. It is what I most want to do, mentally and physically. It’s what I like about staying in a house of prayer-like I can breathe. Which is to say, Robert, this is an issue I am struggling with in my life now-so your advice:)

        1. I get it. Not so crazy, putting everything outside the door.

          I like it, except that’s half the battle, no? The other half is just what you describe. Their freedom was your burden. So, I have to figure out how to pass on the furniture in a way that doesn’t just fill the hallway with crap for somebody else. I don’t want to be a martyr about things, just a mensch.

          Great motto: “Not a Martyr but a Mensch be…!”

          Something like that…

      2. Robert, a bit reluctant to mention what I actually do with the space issue, so here it is: I take refuge in the name of Jesus. I silently, pray “Lord Jesus” in my heart, and “try” to accept that I am powerless in this as in so many things…

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