Earlier this month I re-learned some valuable lessons, and appropriately enough did so during National Teacher Appreciation Week.
Lesson one came one morning when some anonymous appreciator(s) dropped off three industrial-sized plates of cookies to the faculty mailroom at the high school where I teach. The trays contained a mountain of chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter cookies, plus some mysterious ones containing M&M’s, coconut, or perhaps a bit of both.
I quickly calculated the total number of cookies, then divided it by the amount of people on the school staff (minus the 90 percent of my fitness-obsessed colleagues I estimated would forego having any) and grabbed what I estimated to be my share: six pancake-sized, chocolate-chip-laden gems. Showing admirable self-control, I only scarfed down three of them before heading to class.
Those cookies were every bit as delicious as they looked. They also contained about 5,000 calories each, which probably explains why I found myself in a sugar-induced coma less than an hour later. I couldn’t even look at my lunch that day; not only was I not hungry, it was hard to see anything when I was asleep at my desk, head on a pile of essays I was supposed to be grading but was unconsciously drooling on instead.Lesson number 1: too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.
Flash forward to the next day: school has let out, and I’m checking the mailroom just to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything vital before leaving for home. My mailbox was empty, but….one of the previous morning’s three cookie trays was still there, and atop it, beneath some plastic wrap someone thoughtfully used to cover the remaining treats, was one impossibly enticing cookie.
Selectively forgetting the previous day’s gluttony-induced paralysis, I was also momentarily troubled by the thought of perfectly good food being thrown away when there are people starving on other parts of the globe.
Attempting to stave off guilt, I snagged the one remaining cookie. Having claimed the moral high ground, I took a bite, and after some tentative but determined chewing, confirmed it was every bit as tasty as its previously consumed brethren of the day before. But on the second chomp I hit something concrete-like. Not wishing to lose a tooth on any foreign object, I used my tongue to nimbly separate the rock-hard mystery item from the remaining cookie. Using two fingers to gingerly remove the disgusting, slime-covered object from my mouth, I tossed it into a nearby trash can so it wouldn't puncture someone’s foot or flatten a tire if it somehow ended up on a public thoroughfare.
Lesson number two: items obtained for free are generally worth their exact purchase price.
Ten minutes into my drive home I became aware of a gap between two back teeth that I hadn’t previously been aware of. A few moments later I realized the rock-hard object I had skillfully avoided cracking a tooth on was not, as I had originally thought, a fossilized M & M, but rather a tooth itself. And a very expensive one at that; it had been a replacement for a no-longer-extant part of my original set of choppers.
The third lesson I gleaned from this unfortunate experience: sometimes one needs to say goodbye to certain eagerly anticipated childhood visitors.
Don’t get me wrong: I still love having Santa come down the chimney on Christmas Eve, and I welcome the Easter Bunny’s annual spring visit as well.
But at this point in my life, I really wish the Tooth Fairy would just leave me alone. <