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If It Itches, Scratch It!

by rock oakeson

We've all had them. Very embarrassing experiences. I'm talking VERY embarrassing ones. They're the ones we don't tell even our best friend.

But I have learned that being completely open and honest about everything is the best therapy in the universe. I think we should all come out of every closet and let the world see us as we really are. When you give no power to the opinions and judgments of others, they can't hurt you. I've watched judgmental people, groups, and even large organizations become absolutely impotent to affect me-all because I have nothing to hide and am joyful and proud of who and what I am.

So, in keeping with my own therapeutic advice, I would like to share my most embarrassing moment with all of you. (Exciting, isn't it)?

Although a Jew by birth, I was adopted into a Mormon family very early on and raised that way. So after a couple years at Brigham Young University, I felt compelled to serve a two-year mission for the church. They sent me to Hawaii to learn Japanese (Provo's "Mission Training Center" was not built yet), then on to Sapporo, Japan.

Both Hawaii and Japan were the two most humid places I had ever lived, and as humiliating as it was in front of all the other Elders in our mission, I started getting "jock rash." And boy, did I get it bad! It started in the usual area, then spread up onto my chest and down my legs! For almost three linear feet, I was red and oozy, up and down the front of my body.

I tell you this by way of background information. I haven't gotten to the really embarrassing part yet.

When I returned home after the two years, I was still affected and reeling from my itchy/scratchy affair. And I eventually returned to BYU to finish my last semesters before receiving my Bachelor of Music degree. While there, even though I applied stinging/burning medicine on myself every morning and evening, I often could not endure any longer the itchy agony I was going through. So naturally, when nobody was looking, I just had to scratch violently in places only Homer Simpson or Al Bundy wouldn't be discrete about. (I usually sat at the back of classrooms).

The awful rash was slowly going away millimeter by millimeter by the end of my first semester back from Japan. But one day it was itchier than usual. I was on the fifth floor of BYU's main library in the center of campus (this floor was the "Music Library"). As I stood alone in the aisles of the stacks of music scores (at least, I thought I was alone), I just had to unfasten my belt, unzip my zipper, pull my pants down to half mast and insert both hands into the front and back of my temple garments-and let my fingernails go to work.

You can't possibly imagine how pleasant it can be to scratch such an intense itch, especially over such a large area in that region of your body. I'm sure the look on my face reflected this tactile, celestial ecstasy. I think my eyes had even rolled to the back of my head.

Can you picture this? I mean, I was going at it for at least a good minute, and looking every bit as blissed-out as imaginable. Suddenly, right in the middle of this sensory nirvana, I heard a familiar voice that pretty much electrocuted me back to reality:

"What an interesting activity, Rock," it said. "This isn't something I'd do in a public place, if I were you."

Shit! It was my "Theory of Baroque Counterpoint" professor! My face must have turned redder than my crotch as I realized that, with everything hanging out the way it was (if you catch my drift), he would now know that I was Jewish. His facial expression has been indelibly etched into my mind: total disdain mixed with abject horror, kind of like what you would expect from an Amish man trapped inside a light bulb factory.

I quickly organized my parts, tucked my shirt into my trousers, zipped and buckled. When I looked up again, I couldn't believe that he was still there staring! Only now the look on his face was as if one of those light bulbs had just turned on over his head. Apparently he just realized (or verified) something, then turned and quickly walked toward the Men's room.

Well, there you have it. Thank you for letting me share. Now go thou and do likewise with your own experiences. You'll feel much better. As for my professor, all I can say is that he seemed so much happier the rest of the semester, walking with a definite lilt and speaking with a cadence he had not allowed himself before. Oh, by the way, I got an "A" in my counterpoint class. Don't ask me why.