The first time Melinda and I drove to the grocery store as new roommates, she described her fear of someone shooting her hand if she left it dangling outside the car window. I laughed at this silliness, and insisted I didn’t have any irrational fears. A certain terrifying event last week, though, reminded me that I, Rylee Carling, do indeed have a fear some may consider irrational. But for me, this abominable situation isn’t a result of some strange dream or a random happenstance that occurred to your best friend’s cousin’s uncle’s mother-in-law’s ex-fiance, but a real experience from my own terrifying trip down memory lane.
Once Upon a Time, I was in Concert Choir at Highland High School. For those of you who knew me back in the glory days, I was a crazy music machine. At this point, I was playing the violin in Symphony, acting as a sectional leader for the sophomore-age Chamber Orchestra, and singing in both Concert Choir and Advanced Vocal Ensemble. It was on this lovely day I was anticipating All-State choir auditions and preparing to achieve the highest-scoring Soprano in the state of Arizona. I had been fourth chair the year before–it couldn’t be that hard, could it? (It turned out it could–I was only eighth chair that year, dang it) To accommodate the rest of the student musicians who wanted to participate in the top choir and the top orchestra, we were able to alternate choir and orchestra rehearsals, resulting in envy from everyone who wasn’t so lucky to skip one class or the other every other day (Actually, I have no idea if they were jealous. I was jealous of myself, truth be told.)
On this particular day, as mentioned before, I was in choir. Let me continue on yet another tangential rant as I describe the HHS choir room to you.
You enter the performing arts building. The smell of sweaty marching band geeks still lingers in the air, a smell you will come to associate with the terra cotta tile, inlaid with odd, raised circles. You’ll take your first right at the teal-ish double doors that appear amidst the awkwardly rough red bricks. The office to your left is inhabited by Ms. Scholz, and there are guaranteed to be dozens of pictures of choir students taped on the window, blocking your view into her office. No, you will not be in any of these pictures. Why not? Because this is choir–there are cliquish rules to keep with in this holy sanctuary of tortuous music. The sectional room, with an oddly-placed mirror, is next to her office, and after that is Hickman’s Headquarters. It’s also where we store the Advanced Vocal equipment on weekends, so don’t plan on trying to fit more than the assistant conductor in that tiny room on a Friday afternoon at 2:28. Then comes another teal-ish door: the door to the outside, and the gateway to my downfall. The door is left open during passing periods so straggling students can run in desperately as the last bell rings, and sometimes is left open on nice days to let in sunshine. Because apparently sunshine will make this nefarious experience better. All these things on the left wall open up to the stadium seating and risers in the room, a perfect place to create beautiful music while destroying what little confidence anyone in high school had. (I’m joking. I loved choir. Zero sarcasm here.)
It was on this day the teal-ish door was left open. While this did create a nice cross-breeze some days, it also allowed for flies to be let into the room. It was rare when there wasn’t a fly buzzing around, but we had all gotten used to it and considered these irritating insects our own pestering pets. On this particular day, though, a fly would become my mortal enemy.
We were doing warm-ups, simply preparing to inspire the world with our unified sound, when a fly that had been in the room for a particularly extensive amount of time flew in my mouth and down my throat. Surprised, I stopped singing. Surprised, I began spitting into my hand in an attempt to remove the stuck fly from the place it had lodged itself in my esophagus. Surprised, the girls to either side of me looked at me and my spit-filled hands in disgust. They had not witnessed the kamikaze’s fly suicidal act, only the saliva produced at my attempt to stop the lunatic. Ms. Scholz paused, her sun-spotty hands frozen on the piano, and looked at me as I gagged in the front row.
“Rylee, did you just swallow that fly?”
*gagging sounds* “Yes!” said in a disbelieving whimper.
Rather than wait for a response from the choir teacher with a dumbfounded look on her face, I ran towards the teal-ish double doors, a cacophony of surprised laughter emanating from the choir students I left behind. I bolted for the drinking fountain, conveniently located only a few steps from the choir room, and drank and drank and drank. I had already decided that fly wasn’t coming back up–the only way to end both of our suffering was for me to swallow it down and let my gastric juices slowly destroy the sucker until there was nothing left but a stump of a man who needed machinery to operate in order to be look like a normal human being (question mark?) and take over the galaxy until he brings balance to the force. So I drank like a camel and returned to the choir room, where I was welcomed like a hero for doing the job no one else was willing or able to do. I, the Chosen One, had brought balance to the force.
And so, when a fly the size of Lichtenstein forced entry into our apartment the other day and I danced around the apartment squealing my pleas that someone, anyone, just kill that nasty little bugger, I have to explain to them about the time I swallowed a fly. And before you ask, I don’t know why I swallowed the fly, but I’m alive and kicking. No plan on dying anytime soon.