Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"Chemistry is So Hard It Makes My Brain Bleed!"

In my high school chemistry classroom, our desks were positioned in a manner similar to stadium seating, on stairs: the landscape in front of the teacher was not flat; each of our smiling (our puzzled, or frustrated, or annoyed, or confused, or angry) faces were plainly visible to her.

This of course means that if you were sitting in any row other than the front row, you were slightly elevated with respect to the row in front of you. During exam time, this meant that, were you so inclined, you could check out the papers of the guy sitting in front of you.

During one particular test, my eyes randomly drifted to the desk of the guy in front of me. Russell was member of the track and field team, and I remember thinking he had hot body type. Of course, because he was a "jock," he was also an asshole and, well, not terribly academically gifted. (Stereotype much? Sure, but in this case, it was true.) Okay, I'm digressing. But all that was kind of meant to say that clearly I wasn't planning on cheating off of him. In fact, his test paper would have been the last one I would have looked to for guidance during a chemistry exam.

But wander my eyes did, what I did notice was this: there were drops of blood forming on Russell's paper. After watching two or three drops form (and thinking, "ew"), I suddenly realized that Russell had randomly sprung a nosebleed. (Perhaps it was because the seats were so elevated that the air was thinner? Nah.)

He put his hand to his face, thus bloodying his finger and his pencil (we all used pencil back then, because the test was not multiple choice, and showing your work was oh-so-important, and you certainly had to be able to back up in case you messed up and came up with some stupidly improbable answer, like -2.53 moles of NaCl). But he seemed disinclined to ask for help.

I briefly rummaged through my backpack, which was sitting to my side, to look for some spare tissues or something. (I being the sickly sort used to always carry around such necessities in the event that my nose ran during class.) I had nothing to offer him.

Eventually I raised my hand to catch the teacher’s attention, at which point I pointed at the back of Russell's head and mouthed some words to the effect of "Uh, he's, like, bleeding." The teacher pulled off some paper towels and handed them to Russell.

All this took no less than two minutes. Upon being handed the paper towels, Russell looked up at me quizically and I kind of nodded at him to indicate that he'd be okay, I guess.

Only later did I overhear a friend of mine tell someone else that Russell was quite the cokehead, and that his spontaneous nosebleed in class was not unrelated to his snorting habit. Here I was, naive simpleton, thinking I was being such a nice guy for helping out this kid who happened to spring a nosebleed. Meanwhile, as I reflect upon the faces of both Russell and my teacher during this exchange, I realize I was the only one who didn't know the true reason behind Russell's mini-hemmorhage.


katie said...

Gross, so he was just going to bleed all over his test and desk? Yuck.
It was nice of you to try and help him out, I probably would have just been disgusted and looked away.

kat said...

when i was a kid i used to spring nosebleeds like that at least twice a week. of course, i had cancer and not a raging coke habit...

Steve said...

It's funny, because as I was reading this, I thought maybe the dude did a lot of blow. Right again! I used to work with this guy who did a lot, and he would carry around a styrofoam cup with water in it. When he'd start losing his buzz, he'd put his fingers in the cup, then snort a little of the water up his nose... mini-bump! Now that I think about it, I wonder what ever happend to him.

Jon said...

Heh, still, it was good that you offered to help. Druggies are people, too!

When I was 18 and a freshamn in college, I was eating dinner while doing some reading for a history course I was taking and my nose began to bleed. I didn't/don't do drugs, and I honestly don't know why it happened. But it was like the flood gates opened up. And, to make this story even more unpleasant, the blood dripped into my food. Gushed is more like it.

Dennis! said...

Katie: Yeah, I have no idea what he would have done if I hadn't offered to help him clean up. Maybe he figured he'd get extra time on the test later.

Kat: Wow, I didn't know that about you. I presume you've beat it, which is good, because now I get to read your blog.

Steve: He's probably dead somewhere. I kid! Well, maybe not.

Jon: Gross! Did you see that episode of "CSI" where one suspect had some disease that permitted him to, at will, shoot blood from his nose? He got pissed at his landlord, so as a moving-out treat, just exhale a huge slew of blood all over the place. It was kinda trippy.