Shira Bannerman // Norwood, CO
I often have this feeling that my body will accidentally betray me. I worry that I will knock over each glass knickknack perched alongside a narrow, antique store aisle, or somehow start laughing at a funeral. Most 9th-grade biology classes I spent begging myself not to yank the shower-pull-handle that we were told would send out a torrent of water flooding the gym beneath the classroom (and was only installed to extinguish a burning human).
My phobia focus shifted when our class started dissecting a fetal pig covered in formaldehyde and other putrid chemicals; I began to fear that somehow I would eat our science experiment. Every dissection day I worried about burying my head in that cold, raw, wrinkled pig fetus and taking a bite. All this at a Jewish day school. I expressed this fear to my lab partner who was surprised, yet understanding, and later said that he developed a similar impulse after learning about mine.
One day, while we were dissecting the liver, it happened: a small piece of gray matter flicked from my pointy-dissection-utensil, flying to the inside of my lip. I freaked; then ran to the bathroom to scrub my mouth with towels and wash it out with water; then, of course, discussed with my lab partner what it all could mean. I felt both unsettled that this disgusting thing had happened to me and relieved that maybe the impulse would go away. After all, I had survived pig fetus liver to the lip. Could it really get worse?
Now, at 25-years-old, having faced tender pulled pork sandwiches on friends’ plates and the smells of street-festival bratwurst intense enough for me to look into buying a sausage-maker, that day in science class is still the closest I’ve come to eating pig. But I don’t think I experienced it at it’s best.