Statistically speaking, when you stand in front of people for eight hours a day, five days a week, during a career that could span as long as thirty-four years, something embarrassing is bound to occur every once in a while, right?
Well, my friends … read on.
Today I met my seniors in high school for the first time. During 5th period, which is around eleven a.m., I stood before a group of students as they listened attentively. While I ran through the syllabus with them, I suddenly felt a tickle in my nose–the right nostril, to be precise.
I ignored it and kept talking in the hopes that it would subside.
But then I felt something jar loose.
I realize now that the smart thing to do at that point would to simply excuse myself for a moment, blow my nose with my back to the class or out in the hall, and then return to addressing them as a group.
That would have been the smart thing.
Instead, I pressed on.
I’m not sure what I expected to happen, but some trace of flawed logic believed that an item breaking free from my nasal passage would not necessarily result in a total surrender to gravity. I guess I thought–hoped–that whatever had emancipated itself would remain in place.
Before I knew it, I felt a string of cold, wet … gunk … hanging from my nostril.
Not dropping from my nostril–HANGING FROM MY NOSTRIL.
Fight or flight kicked in.
I could run out of the room, or I could take action.
I chose action.
Did I have time to grab a tissue? That would mean that the detritus would remain in place as I traversed the span of the room. No, that would not do. The debris must be dealt with immediately. I could not risk providing a picture opportunity. This moment would not live on in social media infamy.
With a whip of the hand, a strategic swipe of the forefinger, the goo got wiped away.
It did not dissipate, nor did it fling to the floor. No, it clung to my finger, still easily discernible to the observant eye.
Operating on pure instinct, I moved to the tissue box, yanked out a tissue, and swiped the miserable muck off my person before jettisoning it into the garbage.
And then … I faced the class.
Once again … fight or flight time.
Within a span of five seconds, I said the following …
“Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry!”
“Well, that was gross.”
“It just fell out, out of nowhere!”
“Yuck, it was gray. Probably gray matter. My brains are falling out!”
“If I’m not here tomorrow, you’ll know why.”
“At least you’ve all got a story to tell now.”
“Let’s just move on and pretend this never happened.”
So, there you have it. Is that the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me in front of an entire class? So far, probably. Hey, I made it sixteen years teaching before something abruptly and uncontrollably left my body. That’s a pretty good run, right?
I hope that’s as bad at it gets.
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