I have a serious mosquito problem. I seriously have at least 20 mosquito bites on me right now and, when I get mosquito bites, I don’t just get little mosquito bites. Nope, the whole darn thing swells up and looks like a shoved a cherry tomato under my skin and painted the spot red to match. It’s ridiculous. I get at least one every time I take the dog out but, no matter, how many times I tell him, Marshall just won’t find the magic place to poop any faster.
So being covered in mosquito bites reminds me of my favorite mosquito bite story and, since I’m procrastinating doing important things like…dishes…I’ll tell you the mosquito story. This is a pretty typical “me” story. I don’t know what it is about me and my luck, but this just tends to be how things go.
I taught my first undergraduate class about 2 years ago. Fall quarter, I was 23, had never taught anyone above the age of 8, and had no clue what I was doing. Plus, I was nervous. First day of class, I was entirely too dressed up, but I looked GOOD, if I do say so myself. I may have felt incompetent, but I was dressed like a super professional. I still don’t think I managed to look older than 23, but I was about as put-together as I could possibly be, and I was ready. Oh boy was I ready. I was going to impress the heck out of those undergraduates. I don’t know if I impressed them or not, but I managed not to make a fool of myself. I didn’t fall off the heel of my shoe. I didn’t sweat through my shirt. I didn’t have my skirt tucked into my underwear like my English teacher did that one time. I even got all the AV equipment to work. I was very much a “this is my first time teaching” teacher, and very much a “most of you are older than me so I’m going to make you listen to me and respect me whether you like it or not” teacher, but it worked. I relaxed a bit after that first impression was made (and relaxed a lot after that first quarter), but the first impression was important for me.
Because I consistently worked approximately 6 different jobs while going to school full time, I also worked doing in-home Applied Behavior Analysis/Verbal Behavior therapy with kids with autism spectrum disorders. This job was very different from my teaching job. This was primarily a weekend job, and I worked for these families for several years. While I tried to look somewhat put-together going into work in the morning, it was very much Saturday morning, and I was dressed as though I was prepared to deal with spitting, biting kiddos while jumping on the trampoline holding soy milk and all-natural chicken strips because…well…that’s exactly what I did. By the time I got to my Saturday afternoon kid’s house, I looked like I had been pulled through a knothole backwards, and by the time I got home…well…the clothes went straight in the hamper and I went straight into the shower.
This one particular Saturday was pretty rough. My morning kiddo and I went swimming in the family pool, then jumped on the trampoline and worked on language while jumping for about an hour and a half. It was end of August/beginning of September, and it was HOT. I usually had about an hour between sessions to eat lunch and drive to the other kid’s house, so when I finished with kid 1, I got in my car, pulled out my lunch, and realized I forgot my drink. “That’s okay,” said I, “I’ll just go up here to the gas station and buy a bottle of water.”
So I get in the car, get ready to go, and it starts to rain. Hard. No problem, I roll up the windows, crank up the AC, and figure it’s all good. And then I hear it: a high-pitched whine right around my ear. I swat and it, momentarily, disappears. Then it’s back with its high-pitched whine around my other ear. I swat that ear. Then I see them…and there are two of them. “Bloody hell,” I state—a curse phrase I adopted from my grandmother. They both seem to disappear as I make my way towards the gas station, and then the bumps appear: first one on my arm. One on my knee. “For real?” I state, getting seriously annoyed as I’m trying to see through the pouring rain. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” But then I feel it—the slight sting you can sometimes feel—and I feel it on my face. “Come ON!” I pull into the gas station, slide into a parking spot, and look in the rear view mirror: I have not one, but two, huge, growing, red cherry tomatoes on my face. One is on my forehead and the other is on my cheek, and they are, quite seriously, huge. And red. Very red. Plus, I have pool hair that’s knotted up on top of my head, and I look like I’ve jumped on a trampoline for two hours in 180 degree heat because…well…that’s what I did. One look in the mirror, and I realize there is no way I’m going into that gas station. It’s not that I thought I would see people I knew, I just didn’t want to call attention to myself with my messy pool hair, my sweaty clothing, and the 2 cherry tomatoes growing on my face.
But I was still thirsty. Really thirsty. “Aha!” I figured, always resourceful,” I’ll just go through the drive-through at Chick-Fil-A right here. That way, I’ll see only one person, and I don’t care if one person sees me…it’s nobody I know, and it’s not like a whole convenience store full of people. Perfect!” Pleased with my solution, I proceeded to the Chick-Fil-A to get my water after managing to squish the offending insects to the windshield. (Doesn’t the resulting blood—presumably YOURS—that you see when you squish a mosquito—doesn’t that just add insult to injury?). By the time I get to the drive-thru, I am so thirsty I have managed to squelch any lingering anxiety about somebody seeing me looking like I’m dying of some rare skin disease. I place my order at the little box, pull around to the window, say hello to the girl and hand her my change. She stares at me for a minute. For real? I say in my head. Haven’t you seen anybody with pool hair and mosquito bites on their face before?
“HEY,” she says, after a moment. “I think you’re my teacher.”
Teacher? What the hell is she talking about? I’m not a…ohhhh.
“Yeah!” she says. “You taught my class last week.”
No. No. No I don’t. I didn’t. I’m pretty sure not. I have never seen this girl in my life. I don’t know what she’s talking about.
“Oh?” I say. I don’t know what else to say, and “Oh?” is about all I can manage.
“Yeah! I thought it was you! Don’t you teach Abnormal Psych on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:45?”
Crap. Is that when I teach? That’s not when I teach. I think that is when I teach. How does she remember me? We’ve only had one class!
“Oh yes!” I say, pretending like I remember her. I bet she sat in the back. And she definitely didn’t say anything. Maybe she’s the one that left early.
“Yeah!” she says, again. “I’m “Sarah”. I sit in the second row, remember? I asked the question about Prozac, because I’ve been on Prozac for a long time and it’s been really helpful for me. I work here on the weekends.”
“Ah, yes,” I say. “Of course!”
“Well I really like your class so far,” she says. “I think you’re a good teacher. I’m really interested in psychology.”
“That’s great,” I say. How long does it take to get a bottle of water? A guy hands the bottle to her and she hands it to me. “I’ll look forward to seeing you in class,” I say, ever polite and professional.
“Yeah, see you in class,” she says.
I’m pretty sure the mosquito bites could have lit my way into a dark cave at this point. I was embarrassed, so I blushed and my cheeks burned, which made the bites feel like they could positively glow-in-the-dark.
What are the odds. What are the freaking odds…
Some day, I'll learn not to be so self-conscious...things like this would probably never happen then because, I'm pretty sure, that's just the way the world works.