Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Truth Hurts

I wrote the following essay for a high-school composition class back in 1988. You are reading the original paper, word for word.

When I came into my seventh-grade science class Friday afternoon, I wasn't thinking about dissecting a cow's eye. Instead, I was thinking about getting out of school and going home. When I saw a box full of cows' eyes sitting by the door, I casually joked about it: "Ohhhh, I think I'm gonna be sick!" I never really considered the possibility that this statement might be true.

Our science class was learning about the human eye. As part of our study, we were to break up into lab groups, and each group would cut open a cow eye to examine its contents. I had never dissected anything before, but I knew I would have to -- sooner or later. Before that day, the thought of having to do a dissection hadn't bothered me.

Mr. Schroer, our teacher, began class by taking an eye out of the box and holding it up for everyone to see. He gave us instructions on how to cut open the eyes and told us what we were to look for. All the while, he continued to hold the eye up in the air while he pointed at it. Every so often, he rotated the eye around in his fingers to make sure the entire class could see it.

I gave him my full attention while he talked, but I couldn't help staring at that eye as he held it up in the air. The way he held it with one hand and turned it with his fingers made it seem... ALIVE!

I began to get a dizzy feeling in my head. My face lost its color, and everything else became foggy. I couldn't hear clearly anymore. My stomach and legs seemed to pull at the upper half of my body, persuading it to fall to the floor. Trying to ignore the situation did not help -- with every passing second I grew dizzier and dizzier. It didn't occur to me at the time, but I was on the verge of fainting.

Mr. Schroer must have spotted my pale face while he was passing out eyes to the lab groups, because he took me outside into the hall. I was surprised I could even walk -- I felt so weak.

"Do you know you look pale?" he said to me outside the classroom.

I nodded my head. Actually, I really didn't know what I looked like, but I took his word for it.

"Let's go back inside and continue," he calmly said as he reached for the door.

I couldn't go back in there. I didn't care what he said; I didn't want to do it. The thought of returning to the classroom made me feel even worse. In my weakness I slid down the wall to the floor. Suddenly, I began to regurgitate my lunch all over the place.

My teacher helped me up and led me down the hall to the school clinic. All along the way I vomited, leaving a visible trail as I walked. By the time we got to our destination there was nothing more for me to lose.

My mother came and promptly took me home, even though I could've continued on until the end of the day. On the drive home, I explained to her everything that had happened to me. She slowly shook her head back and forth as she drove. "Christopher, you'll never be a doctor," she said.

I had no problem with that.

In the years since then, I've had to do many more dissections in school. Every time I have had to sit down, as that dizzy feeling always returned. I never thought of it as shameful or cowardly. It was something that just happened, something I couldn't help. But out of all those times, nothing ever compared to the shock I felt that first time. It was the shock of finding out something about myself that I had never thought to be true -- I wasn't as strong as I thought I was.

If you're asking, I got a perfect "A" on this assignment.

1 comment:

Tuckerscreator said...

And meanwhile it was just frogs and squids for me. Eyes are a horrifying territory.