Sunday, July 1, 2007

Cough in My Face, Pencil in Your Eye

Spewing liquid during coughAfter my transplant I developed an intense aversion to germs. I held my breath anytime somebody around me coughed, sneezed, burped, grunted, spoke, or exhaled. When I couldn’t hold any longer I would bury my face in my shirt, take a deep breath, and hold it again. It became instinctive. In fact, I’ve noticed that I’ll hold my breath after I hear somebody cough on TV. When I realize I’m the only person in the room, I breathe, and then punch myself in the face for being a moron.

Last year for spring break I went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with some friends. My final class before break was Spanish 202, which I regrettably attended. I should have been practicing my pickup lines, but that’s another story. I showed up right on time and sat next to my friend.

“I really don’t want to be here,” I said to him.

“Me neither, but if I miss any more classes I get docked points,” he replied.

I hadn’t missed a single class yet, and considered leaving. I’m already here – what’s the worst that could happen?

Another guy in our class, Dipshit, was sitting one row back when the teacher made him move next to me. She had a stupid rule that we had to fill all the seats in the front. Besides the fact that he was invading my space, I didn’t mind.

Then he coughed, so I held my breath. Dipshit coughed several more times before I even finished my first held breath. He didn’t even try to cover his mouth. If I wasn’t so damn lazy I would’ve moved to the other side of the room. But instead I spent the entire 75 minutes next to Dipshit on the verge of fainting because he WOULDN’T STOP COUGHING.

When class was over I bolted home, changed my clothes and showered with anti-Dipshit soap. My immune system is normal. I’m not worried.

On the day we left for Mexico I had a mildly sore throat, which turned into all-out sickness and lasted nearly a month. Dipshit gave me one of the worst colds I’ve ever had.

In Mexico I shared a room with three others and a bed with my friend PepperoniNip. I didn’t want to get them sick and did my best to contain my Dipshit germs. Unfortunately, PepperoniNip developed a steady cough during our trip. I felt bad for getting him sick, so I tried to conceal my breath holds, which was hard since we shared the same 4x6 foot space. He quickly realized what I was doing and understandably became angry.

“What the fuck are you doing? You’re the one who got me sick!”

“I know, I’m sorry man. But I can’t help it, I have to hold my breath.”

“What do you think, that I’m going to get you sick with your own germs?”

“It’s habit. I think I have OCD or something.”

“You know I hate you, right?”

One year later I was in my economics class minding my business, when Dipshit #2 sat next to me and started coughing. He had one of those deep, particle-releasing coughs that spray germs everywhere. In this case the classroom was full and I was stuck there. At first I did my usual cycle of holding my breath and breathing through my shirt. But Dipshit #2 WOULDN’T STOP COUGHING.

Over the next several minutes, anger crept into my brain until it was filled with the fury of a thousand Jews who were told “No latkes for a year.” I lost all body control and the anger took over.

I looked down at the mechanical pencil in my hand. The anger pushed my thumb down on the eraser three times, leaving a short piece of lead poking through the top. My bicep contracted until the pencil was near my head. My hand turned to the left until it was pointing at Dipshit #2. Then I saw the future and what was about to happen – my Bic mechanical pencil was about to stab Dipshit #2 in the fucking eyeball.

I immediately let go and the pencil fell to the ground. I put my hands in my pockets and left them there the rest of the class…

Except when I had to pull my shirt over my face because Dipshit #2 WOULDN’T STOP COUGHING.


Anonymous said...

You do know I still hate you, right?

Clare said...


During a bio exam this kid kept clicking his pen.

Click. Click. Click.

About 10 minutes in to the exam my heterolifemate grabbed his pen, slammed it down and asked if he wanted to be stabbed in the eye.

She got an A.

jennrubenstein said...

Over the next several minutes, anger crept into my brain until it was filled with the fury of a thousand Jews who were told “No latkes for a year.”

pure. brilliance.

i laughed so hard i almost aspirated a sour twizzler.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I was eating lunch in the hospital cafeteria...probably gross to begin with, but this lady (probably with TB or the black plague or something) stands up to cough (away from her food to save herself) but she is basically leaning right over my mouth cover, nothing. I just stared at her open-mouthed until I realized I should probably cover my mouth...but all I had was my germy scrub top...Plus I was hungry so I ate the food anyway...worst lunch ever.