Friday, April 20, 2007

The Standardized Spew

Right now I can hear the principal blaring over the PA system at the middle school across the street from my house. She's giving instructions for the dreaded TAKS test and it's making me a little sick to my stomach.

When I was in school, we had to take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills every year to measure our aptitude. I never really had a problem with standardized testing until fourth grade when a girl sitting in the desk in front of me vomited voluminously right in the middle of the reading comprehension section.

After covering her half-finished bubble grid in a yellowish swirl of breakfast and bile, she slowly made her way toward the classroom door, leaving a trail clear out into the hallway. Miss Perry let us go outside while custodial staff tended to the emetic nightmare.

The next morning, two more students vomited during test time. I decided that was enough. I told Miss Perry I thought I too might barf and she sent me to the nurse to wait for a ride home.

I faked being sick to my stomach and stayed home for the rest of the week watching reruns. Upon my return, I was allowed to make up the Iowa Test in the solitary comfort of an empty classroom.

My parents knew the whole thing was psychosomatic, but what were they going to do? I was traumatized by that little girl's throw-up.

At least now I know I'm not alone in this irrational fear. There's even a word for it: emetophobia.

The intervening years have made regurgitation an easier reality for me to stomach. Drinking too much in college did wonders for desensitization, and I figure I'd get even less squeamish as the parent or guardian of a sick child.

In the meantime, though, I still prefer to be as far away from vomit in all its multicolored forms as possible.


shean said...

Ok, I remember that, but I can’t remember if it was me that did it. Because test made me nervous. Man thanks for making me think of Mrs. Perry and her big white bug glasses which she wore on a chain, White wrap around polyester dress with white shoes. I can only think she was a smoker because of her nasally deep voice. Later on in life when I saw her picture I thought she looked a little like a bad drag queen. But, she was a great teacher.

Greg said...

No, it wasn't you that threw up, Shean. At least not the first time. Believe me, I'd remember that!

I moved to Bellaire and transferred to Horn in 1979 so I only had Mrs. (Miss?) Perry for half a year, but those glasses definitely made an impression.