Columnist Sarah Sanders, who tackles the most grotesque topics, shows her weaknesses.
From the usual content of this column, you might think I’m pretty thick-skinned. The topics of discussion I bring up and the matter-of-fact way I react to them probably makes me out to be someone who can handle most situations.
And that’s all true. Regarding the issues on which I’ve elaborated in this column, I think I have a pretty strong and stable stomach. When it comes to vodka tampons, armpit hair and peeing in the shower, I’ll hash it out with you until I’m blue in the face.
I am aware, however, that some of you might not call this “thick-skinned” – just stupid, useless, trashy journalism. Well, so be it.
I still hold my ground when I say that few are willing to openly and comfortably chat about some subjects I can navigate pretty easily.
But I’m not writing this edition of my column to tell you why I should be respected as a journalist – no, not in the slightest. In fact, I want to shatter any respect you might have for me as a gutsy guru of the gruesome and grotesque because I am not so infallible.
I, too, have my Achilles’ heel. I experience discomfort in some conversation circles. There are, indeed, some things I just cannot handle.
There are some obvious ones I share with the rest of the world.
Like anyone else, I get uncomfortable watching those how-a-baby-is-born videos. Sure, I know it’s a beautiful thing, the birth of a human being. But I don’t think this means it should be easy to watch.
Maybe you’ve seen your cat give birth to several kittens. They all come out in their own little sacs. It’s goopy, and you haven’t had any formal training on how to receive these animals, so you’re sweating. That’s difficult to watch, and the birth of a kitten should be just as delightful as the birth of a baby girl.
Plus, those videos sort of sucker you into watching the birth. The first hour is full of serene images of a fetus, floating around in the mother’s belly. The narrator describes to you the growth of her organs, her fingernails, et cetera.
Then all of a sudden there’s a woman screaming, bent over a hospital bed with a head emerging from between her legs. I mean, WTF? It’s beautiful because it’s so wild. I respect those women who put their births on film, but I can’t help my slightly confused, mouth-agape reaction.
Another thing I find hard to handle, which might surprise people, is mouse poop.
I’ve written before about my resistance to washing my hands after using the bathroom and my support for in-shower urination. But I very much detest mouse poop.
Not only is it excrement, which is enough for many to trigger the disgust reflex, but it is also from a mouse, which is especially significant to me.
You know, I’m not even sure it’s the excrement that bothers me, but the audacity. I mean, this is an intruder in my house, who creeps over my kitchen counters and uses these surfaces as well as the dishes in the sink as his own personal toilet. And it’s never just one little mouse pellet, it’s several.
I don’t mind mice – I actually find Fredrick quite adorable. But his presence doesn’t really benefit me at all. Our relationship is not mutually advantageous. In fact, as soon as I enter a room, he leaves. I wouldn’t call that friendship.
Finally, there is the whitehead, the oil-and-grime-filled pustule that appears on everyone’s face at one point or another. I don’t like pimples any more than the next girl, but sometimes I can’t even keep myself still when I see one. I just want to pop it.
It’s so difficult to let the whitehead fester and manifest into something even bigger, which will make me even more uncomfortable. I know that pressure. You feel it right in the crevice of your nostril, on the crest of your upper lip or in the middle of your forehead. And I can’t handle it. It’s gotta go.
So if you’re talking to me, and I have a whitehead staring at you from my chin, tell me. I want to relieve that pressure just as much as you do.
That felt good, like a cleansing of the spirit. Now you know my vulnerabilities. Maybe you’ll think twice next time I seem all too proficient at tackling the gross and the awkward. All you have to do is approach me with a greasy ready-to-burst zit on your face, and I’ll melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.
Sarah Sanders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.