Cho. What did you guys have to do today?
Billy. We had to clean all the bathrooms and showers.
Cho. That’s never fun.
Billy. I try to make the best of it. I might turn it into a game: “Ooh, what sort of gross thing will I pull up out of this drain?”
Cho. Hopefully just hair. Although one time I did manage to pull up an ancient wad of chewing gum. That was pretty disgusting.
Margaret. Who would chew gum in the shower and then shove it down the drain?
Cho. Someone who stayed in this hostel apparently.
Margaret. Gross. It takes some courage to stick your hand down those drains, that’s for sure.
Cho. I don’t know if it’s courage so much as a strong stomach.
Billy. Maybe courage and a strong stomach. I wouldn’t say it’s a fifty-fifty split, however. I think it takes more courage than stomach.
Cho. It’s ninety percent stomach and ten percent courage for me.
Margaret. Why is courage so low?
Cho. Because for me, courage is always tied to fear. It’s like smoke and fire—you need one to have the other. You can’t be courageous if there isn’t something to be feared, and I’m a lot less scared of some clumpy hair than I am by a guy with a knife.
Billy. True, but you seem to be measuring courage in relation to the object of fear. The most courageous act, then, would be something like fending off an armed attacker.
Cho. Not necessarily. Maybe I should have said danger instead of fear. Like, there’s no danger in pulling up drain hair, so there’s not much to be courageous for.
Billy. So you can only be courageous when you’re in danger?
Cho. Right. Again, like I said before, it’s smoke and fire—can’t have one without the other.
Billy. What about when you go out on a first date? Certainly there is no danger in dinner and a movie; can you still be courageous then?
Margaret. Depends on the date. Some guys might think it’s a great idea to go skydiving on a first date.
Cho. I don’t really know. If you want to call picking hair out of a hostel shower drain a courageous act I won’t try and stop you.
Margaret. I think it is courageous. Imagine someone who faces down the shower drain and can’t bring himself to stick his hand down there and scoop up what he gets. I’d call that person a coward.
Cho. Or lazy. Maybe he’s waiting for someone else to come along and do the drain.
Margaret. Now we’re splitting hairs. What even is the difference between a lazy man and a coward? Sure, a coward doesn’t act out of fear, but laziness is a kind of fear too. Lazy people don’t do anything because then they can’t be blamed for anything. It’s a fear of commitment, I think, but fear nonetheless.
Cho. Whatever. How did we end up talking about this?
Margaret. Billy pulled some nasty shit out of the drains today.
Cho. Right. So, noodles for dinner?