The Silly Putty coils of the ear looked devoid of sense or regularity until I copied a Durer drawing line for line, then found the same whorls in my own ear. Abbreviated or elongated, squeezed thin or bunched thick, every ear was made on the same pattern.

My friend Lisa, who was rarely right about facts, but had a colorful sense of story, told me that earwigs crawled into your ear (if you were foolish enough to go to sleep outside), laid their eggs in your brain, and crawled out the other ear. When the eggs hatched, you went crazy. She delivered this fact from my garage roof, where we were sitting in disturbing proximity to earwigs, who were fond of the apples that dropped and rotted there. I gave the idea some thought. It had not occurred to me that the ear passage might go all the way through my head, despite "in one ear and out the other," a phrase popular with my mother. It was true that earwigs were unnerving animals and I later found they were named after the rumor Lisa was spreading, centuries after it was recorded in the Old English name, earwicga, or ear-beetle, but I suspected I would have heard by now from someone besides Lisa if they really were bent on laying their eggs in my brain.