This week has been one big suck. It all started Sunday night when my eye started itching painfully and filling with an unsightly substance. Yeah, as my title has already indicated, the dreaded pink eye (a.k.a., conjunctivitis, a term which actually references the nature of the effluvium that quickly accumulates in the eye socket). I'll let it be known right now that I have never had pink eye; as a matter of fact, I've never had a single problem with my eyes. So you can imagine this came as a disgusting shock. I called the doctor to get the ointment (another unpleasant word) to cure myself, but she told me I had to wait another day, in case it was viral. As we all know, it's easier to get a gun permit than a prescription for an antibiotic these days. And this gatekeeper wasn't about to give me access to the goods until I had suffered long and hard.
It wasn't until I woke up the next morning that I actually realized how unbearably loathsome this ailment is. After I decrusted my eye, I was left with a swollen, bloodshot orb that could not be calmed with ice or make up. Great. So off to work I went, oozing and pussing, to face the 100 students I teach every day, fully prepared to be ostracized in the manner only teenagers are capable of. Thankfully, the school secretary (another gatekeeper) saved me that humiliation by sending me home immediately after she got one look at me (as she simultaneously took three steps back from her desk, an incredulous look on her face. Didn't I know this was a high school? What the hell was I thinking?). The rest of the day was spent trying to get that eye salve, which I eventually did after hours on the phone with the covering nurse who, I am convinced, thought I was trying to obtain it to sell it on the underground market. Jesus.
The next day, cream in eye, I actually made it into the school. Sure, I was still hideously ugly and everyone avoided me, but I made it in. I was experiencing a momentary spike in optimism when I found out that I had been overlooked, yet again, to give the faculty commencement address. And worse, the man who had been chosen is the same man who is going "against" me in a bid for the department chair position next year.
A word about this man, whom I will refer to simply as "my rival." As rivals go, he's one in a million. He's actually just about perfect. My rival is an incredibly creative and demanding teacher, he has a wicked sense of humor, AND he's good looking. Oh, and his wife is a good friend of mine. As you can imagine, the discovery of the new feather in his cap left me (the pariah) feeling more than a little worried about my prospects even as I congratulated him heartily on his newly received honor. And THEN, today, he threw a surprise baby shower for a woman in our department during a meeting. My rival is playing hardball. He even bought her a bottle of gin -- there's that goddamn sense of humor I was talking about -- which tickled everyone to no end. For a moment, I felt like marching myself down to the office and pulling my application. Interviews will be held in the next two weeks, and I thought maybe I could still get out of this with some of my integrity... Is it really better to try than to never know? Smashed egos can be fixed, or so I've heard, but I have this vision of spending the rest of my career being the department loser. On the other hand, I do get to buy a new drop-dead suit for the interview, and Bev has already promised to take me out and get me smashed if I don't get it. What's the worst that could happen? A vomit-covered suit and two more bloodshot eyes?