Though dusk was deepening, I easily found my van in the parking lot; it was the only vehicle there. As I fumbled in my purse for the keys, a meaty fist grabbed my chin from behind. My head was jerked up and to the side as a masculine voice said, “Give me your wallet or I will slit your throat.” The man was good to his word. Though I could not see it, I certainly felt it; a cool blade was pressed against my neck just above the collar bones.
Hum. Not good.
As I was deciding how to best deal with the situation, a car pulled into the school parking lot. My attacker and I stood starkly illuminated in its headlights. Panicking, the assailant ran off. In his rush to get away, his blade slid across my neck, leaving a thin gash. My throat had, indeed, been slit.
That was the first story I told my students when they asked about the wound on my neck. The second story was that I am a zombie. The third (and the only true) story was that I had a parathyroid gland removed.
Typically, a person has four lentil-sized parathyroid glands that regulate calcium levels in the blood. I happened to have an overachieving, fifty-cent piece sized gland that was causing elevated blood calcium levels, which wasn’t a huge problem except that the calcium was being pulled from my bones, making them brittle, which could be a huge problem. So, out it came. It was not a big deal; the surgery lasted only 90 minutes; I was out of the hospital by 6:00 p.m. that evening and at work by 7:00 a.m. the next day. The story I invented, however, was a big deal. I wish you could have seen the students’ faces when I told them the first tale…..
Students at OPA are also telling tales about pig tails, thanks to Grace. As a Junior Livestock Ambassador, Grace is required to do a project that promotes 4-H. The Utah CTE (Career and Technical Education) core curriculum for 7th graders includes a section on agriculture. Combining the state’s ag ed requirements with 4-H’s project requirements, Grace brought the farm to OPA and taught our city kids about her country animals. Her pearls of knowledge (which, by the way, were NOT cast before swine) included: pig’s tails are curly when they are healthy, healthy pigs are not pink, sheep do not have teeth in the front on their upper jaw, sheep do have long tails on their butts, and chickens are not smart—there is a reason that the term “bird brain” is an insult.
The students ate it up. They held the week-old chicks, petted the months-old pigs, and watched Grace shear the three-year-old ewe. They were astonished to learn that she was only a year older than they and were impressed by her knowledge. Their letters of thanks said things like “You were great presenting; you are so brave”; “When you told us about 4-H it inspired me and my friends to join”; “You were very pretty and fun and funny”; “U R SWAG”; and “One of the chicks fell asleep in my hand; I almost took it but that would be illegal”. The hit of the day was when Grace demonstrated what it means to “squeal like a stuck pig”. She did not stick the pig but she picked it up and it squealed like it had been stuck.
Someone in Dove® production must have been really stuck for ideas; (s)he named the scent of a deodorant “pomegranate and lemon verbena”. Really? Pomegranates do not really have a scent, lemons are not something one typically puts in one’s armpit, and verbena is a genus in the Verbenaceae family that contains about 250 species of annual and perennial flowering plants. The three together? My bet is that the odds of a person smelling the deodorant and saying “Ah…..yes…..pomegranate and lemon verbena!” are less than the odds of winning a billion dollars by correctly predicting the outcome of every game in the NCAA basketball tournament.
What are the odds of getting a distinctly Mormon essay published in the mildly-critical-of-the-LDS-culture local paper? They must be pretty good because last Saturday my photo, name, and thoughts were published in the Standard Examiner as a “Faith Commentary”. With more faith (and a lot more work and a few miracles) someday I may even be paid for something I write. Dare to dream!
Dreams came true on the SAA stage this week. “Little Mermaid” opened and Grace made her debut as “Flotsam”, a wicked eel. A kindergartener who saw the play Wednesday night came to school Thursday with her hair done in the same style as Grace’s character. Banish the beautiful Ariel and her dreamy voice; the little girl told her teacher that her dream was to be cast as “Flotsam” when she grows up. Grace’s performance was very captivating; her serpentine movements and very authentic-appearing evilness may have been more nightmarish than dream-like if it weren’t for the fact that the show was completely charming.
Charming and nightmarish are both words that describe Tanah’s upcoming weekend. She met a boy at a church activity and he asked her to accompany him to dance next Saturday. Tanah has the charm; Lance has the nightmares.
And I have a slit throat.
Life is the stories you can tell.