Thursday, September 24, 2009

grin and flash

My hair is coiffed. My skin is moisturized. I’m wearing the brown with blue stripped shirt Chad gave me for Christmas last year that I look so good in. I’ve practiced my smile in the mirror. I’ve brushed my teeth and then destroyed the effort by guzzling coffee.
Picture Day is a much bigger deal for a teacher than it is for a student. I didn’t really worry about picture day as a kid. I didn’t care. However, whatever picture I take today haunts me until this time next year—and there are no retakes for teachers. The picture will be on the ID I wear around my neck for three-hundred sixty-five days. It will be hung in the vestibule of the school for all to see until this time next year.
The picture I had last year was one of the best school pictures I had ever seen of myself. I wished I looked as good as that picture everyday. However, the picture two years ago was scary. I looked diseased ridden, sallow, and haggard (and I’m really not exaggerating—even I couldn’t figure out why I looked so horrible—and I’m pretty quick to see what doesn’t look good about me).
So, this morning, I put some effort into getting ready—not more time, but more effort. . . or at least more intention. I’m a little tremulous, however. Two nights ago, I was rubbing the corner of my right eye, it was itchy. By the time I went to bed, it was swollen. You don’t notice it if you look at me momentarily, but if you look directly at my face, at my eyes, you notice that my right eyelid is about five times thicker than my left, which causes it to fold against the skin under my eyebrow in an unappealing way—the resulting effect resembling cat-like features. And not in the sleek, lion kind of way. As if a feline eye wasn’t bad enough, the skin on and around my nose is still pealing and voraciously hanging onto my face due to the weeks that I couldn’t stop sneezing and blowing my nose.
Put all that together with the coffee stained teeth, the mohawk on a thirty-one year old, and the very nice dress shirt. You have a teacher who appears to be undergoing species-reassignment surgery, practices cat-like reflexes by clawing at his nose, a fake yet satiated grin on his face that comes off as a pained grimace, while trying too hard to retain his youth and edgy appearance but fooling no one. This will be one page in the yearbook that will cause children to scream and laugh and parents to embark on a search for a more stable educational environment. “Smile”

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