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Thursday, March 13, 2003  

Spit it Out

I told you yesterday that I’d let you know how we did at the Pub Quiz. So I guess I have to tell you.

We came in ninth.

I blame Seasonal Affective Disorder. That and the fact that my team did way too much listening to me. Well, they won’t make that mistake again, I’ll tell you what.

* * *

I used to have a rare talent that seems to have since disappeared. At least temporarily. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as this particular talent consisted of the ability to drool from the outside of my face.

It only happened when I was eating. Thai food in particular. And when I say “drool from the outside of my face,” I’m not talking about stuff leaking out between my lips and then calling that “outside;” I’m talking about the area in front of my right ear spontaneoudly growing damp for no discernible reason, other than that some of my salivary glands have become misaligned and are now pointing in the wrong directions (i.e., outward), or perhaps they just stepped outside to get some air and liked it so much they decided to try telecommuting.

I have a theory, although I was never able to get medical corroboration for it. Back in 1992, I had a gumball-sized cyst floating around under the skin below my ear. I had it surgically removed (after repeated attempts to pop it like a zit invariably ended in lots of crying on my part) and biopsied, whereupon it proved to be benign. I was left with three things: 1) a narrow white scar along the seam between my neck and jawline that nobody can see unless I point it out to them, which effectively scuttled my heroic but ultimately doomed efforts to take on the nickname “Blade”; 2) Negligible numbness on that side of my face due to the cyst’s proximity to the facial nerve, which has persisted ever since; and 3) some very confused spit glands.

The external drooling didn’t actually start happening until years later. I’d eat something particularly hot or particularly spicy or particularly both, and a little later I’d feel the faintest of tickles on my permanently sleepy skin, and I’d reach up idly with my fingers and wonder who the hell had licked me without my knowing about it.

I was able to be pretty discreet. I mean, it’s not like I was squirting high-pressure loogies across the room out of the side of my head, or trailing thick, frothy ropes onto my shirt collar. There was just a little residual moisture, as if I were lightly perspiring from my jaw hinge. It was easy to get away with; even when you’re at the kind of function where people are watching you to make sure you use the right fork or spoon or pair of pliers at dinner, they’re generally not on the lookout for mysterious facial dampness. So I’d just use my napkin to blot the corners of my mouth, then give it a quick swipe down where my sideburn would be if I had one. It made me look more continental in some way that nobody could quite put their finger on. At least that’s what I choose to believe.

But it also made Trash and my parents a little nervous, so they made me go to the doctor for it. We all have to say embarrassing things about ourselves to doctors at some point in our lives, and this was only the second-most embarrassing thing for me. What was worse was having to break out a McDonald’s hamburger in order to give a demonstration—and, ideally, a sample—to my highly skeptical nurse-practitioner.

“Maybe we should have a little talk about nutrition,” she said, doubtfully watching my bone-dry face as I self-consciously munched the burger. Apparently a third factor in this phenomenon is my comfort level, which at that point was as low as it would be for any man who was scarfing down a McDonald’s hamburger in front of a nurse-practitioner in hopes that drool would appear on the side of his face so she would be able to fix it and not think his cheese had completely slid off his cracker. That is to say, low.

Even though she hadn’t seen it with her own eyes, even though she’d never heard of such a thing, even though she had no idea what could be causing it, she believed me for some reason I will never understand. She wasn’t so lucky when she brought the issue to her colleagues later on, all of whom gave her some grief for buying my story. She was pretty much reduced to telling me that it didn’t seem like anything that could hurt me (which I had already concluded), and to let her know if anything changed. I say “anything changed,” but the specifics of what she said to look out for are too gross to go into, so I’ll spare you those nightmares.

Sure enough, it hasn’t hurt me, and it’s even stopped for the most part. In fact, it hardly happens any more at all. So I don’t want you people filling up my inbox with a lot of morbidly curious dinner invitations, okay?

posted by M. Giant 3:22 PM 0 comments


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