Today, I have an appointment to get a tetanus/diphtheria shot for school, which is by far my least favorite needle. I always manage to tense up my arm, causing the muscle to hurt for days. Anticipation of the pain has put me in mind of events which led to my last tetanus booster. I'll share them with you now.
Let's get in our time machine and travel back...back...back to the bygone days of 2000. The "millennium" had come and gone (depending on how you count,) the panic over Y2K proved unwarranted, Michael Jordan had retired (again,) and then virgin Britney Spears was still both attractive and on the pop charts. I was set to leave on what I thought would be the last Spring Break of my life. Myself, my then girlfriend, and our two best friends were headed to Charleston, SC for a week at the beach, and we hoped, a week of fun.
Charleston and I have a somewhat troubled history, and though I believe in neither luck nor karma, I still visit the city with a certain amount of reluctance and trepidation. My fears were to prove well founded. Both vehicles we took on the trip broke down, costing us money that our college student wallets could ill afford. Several of us got deathly ill with what was either food poisoning or the mother of all stomach bugs. And then there was the coup de grace, the final straw, the perfect end to a perfectly miserable week.
We were playing Frisbee on the beach. South Carolina beaches, I should note, are not the beautiful white sandy beaches you may imagine. They are littered with shells, gravel, and all manner of coarse, sharp flotsam (or is it jetsam?) As I mentioned in my Random Eight list, I possess the most tender feet known to man. If I step on anything unexpected, I reflexively divert all of my weight away from that leg, which often times causes me to fall down. So of the four of us, I was the only one still wearing tennis shoes. The others were teasing me unmercifully, and so finally I removed my protective footwear. Not wanting to show signs of pain, I gritted my teeth and ran faster than ever. As I sprinted to catch a wayward toss, I felt what I can only describe as something biting by toe.
I began immediately hopping and cursing. My companions, not wanting to pass up an opportunity to kick a friend while he was down, renewed their cries of tenderfoot. But I got the last laugh, so to speak. As they approached, I had an opportunity to inspect the source of the pain. Attached to the "index" toe of my right foot was a barnacle of some sort. Now as far as I know, barnacles rarely attach themselves to human feet and never with such instantaneous ferocity. My confusion melted into horror when I realized that the barnacle was attached to a rusty nail, which had completely skewered that toe and begun penetrating my big toe. To make matters worse, the nail had an odd bend and what appeared to be a tiny cousin of the first barnacle at the other end.
"Awww...did the little baby stub his toe?"
"There is a fucking nail THROUGH MY TOE!"
"There is a MOTHER FUCKING NAIL through my MOTHERFUCKING TOE!"
(Silence, followed by glorious vindication.)
"Holy shit, dude! Do you want me to help pull it out?"
And thus our tale is more or less concluded. I did not need any help, as I slowly pried the barb from my toe. I would, however, require the aforementioned tetanus shot. Not having health insurance, the shot and examination came from my pocket, which was really the icing on the cake. It was one of the most painful and consequently, memorable Spring Breaks of my life. Perhaps, subconsciously, I am returning to academia just for a shot at a Spring Break do-over.