This is one of my favourite phrases. For me, it all started back at school (UK: school, US: high school), when I was watching some TV with my mate Brian in the TV room. We were flicking channels, nothing much was on, and we stopped for a while at a documentary about the life of the hippo, cause they're funny looking when they eat bananas. Then Mick walked in.

Mick was a bully, a thick-as-pigshit farm boy who was built like a tank, and twice as ugly. He had a habit of saying "What the fuck is this shit?" in his strong Cork accent when confronted with anything confusing, difficult, or with less than four legs. It was the only way he seemed able to form a question, while also managing to cram as many swear words into a relatively short sentence (see also Swearword Combos). For him, it was just above "Ug" on the conversational scale. Anyway.

He strolled in, and before he'd even seen what was on the TV screen, brayed "What the fuck is this shit?" The door was behind the TV, so he couldn't have known what it was, shit or otherwise.

When he got around to our side of the screen, he took one look at it, and, in a disgusted tone, said "Fuckin hippos..." and walked out again.

I looked at Brian, Brian looked at me, and we just screamed with laughter until we cried, and our faces hurt. We couldn't tell people what was so funny for hours. We'd get as far as "We were watching-" in that weird, high voice you do when you're trying not to laugh, before collapsing again.

For the rest of our time at school, whenever anything new appeared, or even when anything at all happened, however insignificant, Brian and I would look at each other in disgust and say "What the fuck is this shit?" as loudly as possible. The "Fuckin hippos" bit was optional, but we usually did it anyway. Ah, happy days. Well, not really. I'll node about them sometime, before all the memories fade.

I'd forgotten until today where I got that from. Funny, isn't it, even useless assholes can have a positive influence on your life, even if it is a minor one. Having said that, if I ever see that stupid fuck again, it'll be far too soon. I mean, what the fuck is this shit? Fuckin hippos?

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"Uhm, excuse me?"

I turn, and as I do the high-resolution array sweeps across her. In a single blinding moment of horror I can see every single oil spewing pore, every filthy hair, every single one of the two hundred and fifty three microscopic ticks lurking in her eyelashes. The computer misinterprets my panicked flailing as a request for greater detail, and now I can see the joints in the legs of the ticks, each grain in the crust around her eyes, the untold billions of bacteria swarming in crawling hordes across her filthy skin. The x-ray backscatter sensor bars finish collating and now I can see into her. It's mercifully vague, but the diffraction patterns aren't enough to hide the rotting chunks of dead animal being squeezed through her gut. Tracking the progression from stomach to small intestine to large intestine to colon is like watching the death of the universe on fast forward and now I can't stop screaming I can't believe the sound coming from my simulated throat if I was still meat I would already be dead oh god if I was meat I WAS MEAT I WAS MEAT I WAS FUCKING DISGUSTING FUCKING WET FUCKING MEAT

I pause. There's the vague spot in short-term memory that indicates a cascade failure. I don't think about it very hard in case I trigger it again.

There's a woman standing in front of me. Didn't she ask a question?

"Yes, how can I help you?"

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