It started out as an average Friday morning. Students filed in showing off their loose teeth and lugging their book boxes to their desks. I stopped at each desk to check in with my kids and collect their homework. Just then a father with special needs walked in. In the middle of a conversation with one of my kids, the dad blurted out “Here’s her folder. Do you want her papers now?” I patiently held up a lone index finger, the universal sign for ‘I’ll be with you in a moment’.
After finishing the conversation with my student, I turned my attention to the waiting parent. We had a quick conversation about where his daughter should put her homework folder and I turned to go about my morning business. The father continued in a loud, unmodulated voice. “Mrs. McCauley, I know what I’m getting you for Christmas.” I wasn’t sure how to best reply, so I uttered a noncommital “Oh.” Then he delivered a surprise verbal punch. “I’m getting you the Costco jar of MIDOL!” He smiled, so pleased with himself. I stared, mouth agape. I didn’t feel like I’d been rude or unkind. It’s not like I gave him the OTHER finger or anything.
As I stood totally unsure how to escape gracefully from this conversation, his face turned the blotchy crimson of a pomegranate. In an even louder voice he stammered “I mean the Costco jar of Tylenol. Not the other, you know, thing.” This really didn’t clear anything up for me. I stared at him, head cocked to the side, in total disbelief that this conversation was still going on. He continued “You know because of all the headaches you must get.” I do not have a poker face at all, so I’m sure my increasing look of incredulity was apparent. I stood unable to extricate myself from the awkwardness and to my dismay he rattled on. “You must get a lot of headaches. I didn’t mean the other thing. I don’t want you to think I was saying anything weird or anything.” Seriously!?! This entire conversation was totally bizarre. Unable to bear the possibility of any further comments, I said “Don’t worry about it. I put my foot in my mouth all the time. Have a nice day.” I willed my legs to move me to the student sitting in the desk furthest away and to my great relief that was the end of the dialogue.
Although I only get a headache approximately once a year and I am as fortunate when it come to other unmentionable aches and pains, come this December I’ll be commemorating the birth of the Christ child with the deluxe jar of Midol or Tylenol. Who knows, maybe in the spirit of generosity and goodwill, I’ll receive both. Take that, wise men.