Hoof and Mouth Disease

Walking into our pediatrician’s office last week, I passed a woman carrying an infant carrier, a diaper bag and a sizable box of free samples of something. Walking alongside her was her 2-year-old daughter. Clearly, the mom had run out of hands. So I did what people occasionally did for me when I was walking out of the pediatrician’s office with too many little people.

“Can I help you?” She looked startled, and I let her know that I had no intention of carrying her newborn, but I’m still pretty trustworthy with a box of free samples.

We made small talk as we walked to her van, which she opened and began loading with the toddler and diaper bag. I handed her the box of free samples, and I looked down at the newborn girl, arms flailing about, eyes squinting in the sun. And then I remarked, “Oh, she must have had her PKU today. Look at her hoof.”

I called her sweet baby’s foot a hoof.

Understand that this was not a baby who could be confused with a baby giraffe or hippopotamus. She was by no means an ugly baby, and her little baby feet appeared perfectly normal. She was beautiful, actually. Her mom looked a little stunned. I tried to recover (“I said ‘hoof,’ didn’t I? What is wrong with me?”), but the mom quickly gathered her kids and free samples and got the heck out of there.

I don’t know who she was, and I sort of hope I never see her again because really, what could I say?

Here’s the problem. For more than a month, I have spoken (usually silently) in analogies– a:b::c:d. I blame the stupid MAT and its analogous ways and the thick study guide and how they have all conspired to totally rewire my brain. I have spoken fluently in analogies (as if it were a language), and just as frequently, I have stopped cold in the middle of a sentence and wondered aloud what day it is. “Is today Thursday? It feels like Thursday.” Sometimes things work well; other times, not so much.

I’ve tried to put to memory things like where colors are in relation to each other on the color wheel, the order of the English dynasties and the queens and kings within each, which countries use the dinar (you’d be surprised), and whose face appears on the $100,000 bill (yes, there was once a $100,000 bill, and the face belongs to Wilson).

While putting quarters in a parking meter Wednesday, I examined the front and back of each, to look for any dates, Latin phrases or symbols that might, on some off chance, land on a test question. If any combination or suggestion of New York: 1788::Alaska:1959 were to appear, I would be in good shape. Later that morning, 10 minutes in a bookstore netted me these tidbits: Ibsen wrote An Enemy of the People, Virginia Woolf’s given name was Adeline Virginia Stephen, and Vera Bradley bags are obscenely overpriced.

Two hours later, I exited the testing center like I was Mary Tyler Moore, waving at strangers and talking in complete sentences once again, offering to explain to anyone who would listen what I had just done, and do you know how OLD I am?

To wrap this thing up, I have a shiny, blemish-free MAT study guide for sale because as of this morning, I will never, ever need it again. (insert a big, fat emoticon here–perhaps a big smiley face smoking a cigar)

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