Kidneys. They're super-cute and we're each packing two of 'em. And what do they do? They remove wastes from the body, primarily. But they're multi-taskers, 'cause they also regulate the balance of electrolytes, control the body's blood pressure and spur the production of red blood cells.
I didn't know all this prior to this post, of course. I had to look it up. (In general, my knowledge of how the human body works is pretty Middle Ages. For all I know, little elves live inside me, pulling levers and twisting dials.) During my exhaustive research, I learned that, once removed from the human body, kidneys look like slimy pink purses. Or gigantic, slick butterbeans. The Ancient Semitic wisdom holds that these miraculous butterbean-purses, in addition to all that other stuff, also regulate moral behavior:
"Man has two kidneys, one of which prompts him to good, the other to evil; and it is natural to suppose that the good one is on his right side and the bad one on his left, as it is written, A wise man's understanding is at his right hand, but a fool's understanding is at his left." (Tractate Berakoth, Folio 61a, Babylonian Talmud)
Why this diatribe? Because - my man Paul gave one of his kidneys up about a week and a half ago - something impossible in Old Babylon. Now Paul's kidney lives inside somebody's sixteen year old son. Why did Paul do this? You'll have to ask him, like I did. But basically, he seems to have operated from a pretty simple place of basic, kitchen-sink compassion. Sort of like, "Why not give a friend one of my perfectly good kidneys?" [Oh yeah, I forgot to say that earlier: we can get by just fine with just one kidney. How is this possible?! Maybe because they're located in a pretty vulnerable place (the small of the back) and evolution - or, if you prefer - YAHWEH, in its infinite kitchen-sink ingenuity, said, "I better give these guys an extra. You know, in case one gets gored out by a mastodon...or Jack Dempsey."]
(The infamous "Massacre In The Sun" - Jack Dempsey versus Jess Willard. The lore behind this fight is that Dempsey had never laid eyes on his huge opponent before, and was terrified when the bell rang. So his "strategy" was to just charge Willard with every brawlin', bustin' thing he had. He did...and won the bout, leaving Jess Willard with the following injuries: a caved-in cheekbone, a broken jaw, several knocked-out teeth, a broken nose, a few broken ribs, multiple contusions, cuts, and abrasions, both eyes swollen shut, and permanent hearing loss in one ear. Note Dempsey's brutal kidney punch at 00:40)
In this modern world, unless you're Jess Willard, kidney disease is the new mastodon. According to data collected through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, roughly 13% of American adults (ages 20 or older) have physiological evidence of chronic kidney disease. Kidney transplants are drastic measures that save lives. And in my mind Paul's as hardcore as Jess Willard, because he let a masked man cut open the small of his back and remove one of his butterbean-purses - in order to help out a friend who needed it bad. It all went well, of course. Now he's on the mend and back in action. (Nice one, Paulie.)