Hairy Kidneys

I should be writing an essay right now but I had to get this down – out, this story about hairy kidneys, because it makes my eyes water.

I had lunch with my good friend Gabby today. I found her in the supermarket six months ago, when I first arrived in Armidale. It’s not every day you find a good friend in the supermarket.

Gabby had been my friend about twenty-five years ago and I lost her. The second week after I arrived in Armidale I was shopping in Woollies when I came upon a woman with her back to me blocking the canned fish section with her trolley. I was trying to grab and run, that’s the kind of shopper I am. Fast-dodging-between-trolleys-grab-and-run-shopper. Supermarkets make me nervous, perhaps it’s all those people wielding trolleys, en masse obstruction.

I don’t really understand the basis for my fear of supermarkets I’ve just learnt to live with it and do the dash-grab-and-run-quick-exit routine, usually forgetting at least one item because, in my haste, I lose the list, which is stored in random sections of my brain. And, as you know, when we feel fear the lower brain overrides the big brain, wiping out the shopping list.

Anyway there was Gabby who I hadn’t seen for fifteen years casually hanging about in front of the canned fish blocking my grab-and-run approach. Well you can guess the rest. Over the last six months we’ve caught up on the fifteen years between chats and now we’re operating in the present, well some of the time.

So, we had lunch today. We were standing outside the café saying goodbye when Gabby told me the story of the hairy kidneys.

Here it is.

Gabby: I decided to cook John (husband) a steak and kidney pie for dinner last week. I had steak, so I took out the kidneys from the freezer. They looked a bit hairy.

I’m thinking “hairy? What tha!” Must be a synonym for freezer burn, or maybe hairy is like hoary, and the kidneys are looking a bit the worse for wear. But Gabby continued before I could ask for clarification.

Gabby: I went to start cooking the pie but when I opened the bag with the thawed kidneys they looked really strange. Very hairy.

I’m thinking, Hmm I’m still not getting “hairy”. My imagination is working hard on hairy kidneys but draws a blank. There are no images of hairy kidneys or any other fur covered offal floating around in my imagination that I can detect.

Gabby: I had a closer look and realised they were kangaroo testicles.

Now I’m laughing too hard to speak or ask why she had kangaroo testicles in her freezer.

Gabby: Then I remembered I kept the kangaroo testicles because I wanted to do taxonomy on them, stuff the balls.

I’m still laughing too hard to speak, or ask why anyone would want to taxonomise – is there such a word? – kangaroo testicles.

Gabby: I’d seen a bottle opener made out of kangaroo testicles and thought I’d try to taxonomy them. But then I didn’t know how to do it so they stayed in the freezer.

So that’s the story of the hairy kidneys.

I had to go and do some shopping after that. Waiting in a queue (you guessed it, in the supermarket) the hairy kidney story sneaked into my brain like an odd smell. It made my nose wrinkle and my eyes water and I started to smirk, and then a warm glow flooded through my body, as my mind’s eye imagined the look of surprise on Gabby’s face peering into the frozen bag of hairy kidney-testicles. My shoulders twitched and laughter gurgled up from inside. I couldn’t stop it, and I didn’t want to stop. Laughing in public when you’re standing alone in a queue at the supermarket is always good practice for not caring what people think.


Why is it so funny aside from the fact that it is?

I think it’s because Gabby was laughing at herself. That’s what real humour is, the ability to laugh at yourself. Gabby has always been able to laugh at herself. I’ve only learnt to do it in the last few years. And oh what a relief it is, because we are really very funny, well I am anyway. We – ok – I, do funny, crazy things all the time. Just take my supermarket “phobia” for starters. No, on second thoughts let’s not go there.


Last week I was thinking that I don’t laugh as much as I used to. I laughed all the time when I was in my twenties. But laughter seems to have an inverse correlation with age. I think there could be some research on that, but you can go and find it for yourself if you’re interested. I’m done with research this week, I’m more interested in laughing, and hairy kidneys, and good friends.

So any time you feel a bit down, or you start taking life, or yourself, too seriously just remember the hairy kidneys. And what a surprise it is when you find kangaroo testicles in your freezer even if you’re the one who put them there.


Names have been changed to protect the testicles.

Apologies to all my friends who are vegetarian and the animal rights activists.

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