Last night I had dinner at Gates with most of the Central debate squad and a rep from the University of Oklahoma. LaToya drew the short straw and wound up sitting next to me.
The Oklahoma man ordered a big platter of meat, and the waitress set it down in front of me. I was famished, and the sight of all that meat got me real excited. So excited that I squeezed the plastic tongs a bit too hard and they broke with a loud snap. LaToya flinched, startled by the sound.
We were sitting at a long table, so I wound up serving meat on folks' plates. LaToya asked me to get her some ham. So, with the tongs broken, I scooped some up with a fork. I tried to shake the ham off the tines, but they wouldn't budge, so I instinctively pushed them off with my fingers. LaToya cringed and all the other kids at the table laughed. She asked me to remove the contaminated piece of ham from her plate.
As I said, I was really hungry, and thrilled to have so many choices of meat, so I just started scarfing down really fast. Too fast, I guess, because I tried to swallow and breath at the same time and I made this loud cough/snort sound that made Latoya shift in her seat and lean as far away from me as possible.
After we'd all had our fill, we sat around and talked about OU. It's a great school, and they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to let the students we work with know that they have a home at OU. Seriously, I've never seen a school with such an active commitment to diversity. Truly amazing. I sat listening, positively amazed.
But then I felt a sneeze coming on. I have allergies, and at this time of year I can be suddenly attacked by sneezing fits. This one was moving in fast. I had less than a second to size up my options. In a mere wink of time I looked around the table and saw wads of napkin that were greasy and red with Gate's juice and sauce. For some reason, I thought it would be gross to grab one of these and sneeze into it. I saw no clean napkins. I thought for a second about cupping my hand against my nose and mouth, but with no clean napkins immediately visable, I figured I'd then have to wipe the discharge on my pants or something. So in the final milliseconds, with the mighty sneeze welling up, as I cocked my head to prepare for the unleashing, as I moved into the Ah part, I decided I would direct the force of the blast into my chest.
I bent my head down as far forward as I could.
From the corner of my eye I saw LaToya recoil and start rubbing her arm. Like Cheney, I'd "peppered" her with the outer spray of my shotgun blast.
I tried to deny it.
"I couldn't have hit you," I said. "I was aiming at my chest."
"You hit me," she insisted, still drying her arm.
"I'm sorry," I said, offering: "But you're safe. It's just pollen. It's not like I have a cold or anything."
She wasn't comforted by my rationalizations.
Poor LaToya. Had to sit next to the gross old white freak.