On Emergencies

Monday mid-afternoons used to belong to a two-hour time suck of a class known as Women’s Health Issues. I registered for the course as an attempt to better understand what exactly my issues were, usually to no avail. The word ‘issues’, of course, always felt more like of a jab at women than a course descriptor anyway. In the end, I invariably left the classroom feeling more unsettled than I had come.

The professor, Dr. Summerland, was a mousey mom who led her college courses like a day care program. She was the type of person that you wanted to play a minimally important role in your life, like the aunt you see every couple of years who sticks to painfully happy conversations over bowls of popcorn.

Dr. Summerland was great at conversation for exactly two minutes until her charisma routinely dropped dead on the floor like a fainting goat. For the next 158 minutes, students were left to choke down every drab word tossed our way. As typical of any classroom, we were all detestably meager in our attempt to internalize her lecture. In reality, those 158 minutes were more often used for daydreaming, hunting around the internet, and merely staying awake.

One girl actually almost died of boredom.

Ironically, she almost died on the day of our most exciting lecture about sexual health. Dr. Summerland’s bubbly charisma had lasted for almost three minutes that day, and most of us students optimistically believed this could be a potentially mediocre lecture.

The bright slides projected all types of interesting facts on sex and genital diseases, pictures included, to the mostly female student audience. The slide on which the girl, Lily, almost died was where things were starting to get good, the title read “sexual expression,” but we all knew that was euphemistic.

Dr. Summerland was moments away from proving to the world that even masturbation could be jejune if she had a hand in talking about it. That is until Lily’s water bottle toppled off of her desk, while her right leg proceeded to shake until it hyperextended diagonally. Her bony arm contracted and collapsed, thus allowing gravity to have its way with her head as it crashed on the table and broke a very nice, but pretentious, pair of sunglasses.

Everything stopped: the teacher, the students, the slide, the girl. No one did anything for seven painful seconds as we all adjusted to the shock that Lily could potentially be dying, most likely from this class. One of the two boys in the class, Josh, called 911 and seconds later, a police officer practically teleported into the room and laid Lily flat on the ground. He grabbed a granola bar from another student and fed the dying girl with her last source of chewy, carbohydrate-rich hope.

And the room went silent.

One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three…

“This is a really good granola bar.”

This is when Women’s Health Issues became an interesting class. From where I was sitting, in my nest toward at the very back right on the room, I had the optimal view.

There laid skin-and-bones Lily, under the shadow of a classic 1950s-macho police officer who, honestly, could have been a stripper. Behind them, a giant slide projection, listing the different ways to express sexuality including “masturbation, sex toys, heavy petting, oral sex, anal sex.” Then filling in the scene there sat the frozen crowd of female onlookers along with two boys who looked like they were in an accidental game of Where’s Waldo. Dr. Summerland stood, laughing nervously, as the granola bar donor was advertising how her granola bar was indeed really good and we could all get one just like it at Trader Joes.

Because the policeman wasn’t enough, the firefighters soon arrived to continue care for a girl who -and it was obvious to the rest of us- was simply just sickened with boredom. The situation ended up becoming so ridiculous that we abandoned the classroom and reset ourselves on the patch of grass outside for a pseudo-recess.

What was an averagely mind-numbing day about kinky coitus in Women’s Health Issues had morphed into an embarrassing emergency, only to be resurrected by a delicious granola bar, followed by a grassy class discussion about secret menus at coffee shops.

If anyone is wondering, apparently Starbucks has a secret drink called The Undertow.

Lily is fine, by the way. The next time I saw her in class she had a granola bar.

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