The Battle of Russell Basement

I sat down in the chair, put away my bag, and stared at the test tube. All I needed was 5 mL of the clear liquid that is stored in my mouth and then I could go. 

As I was about to start this daunting mission, I looked around to see how the others were managing when I suddenly made eye contact with this boy. His eyes bulged out, the mouth structured into an O, and a sweat drop went down the side of his face: he was preparing to spit into the plastic container.

As our gazes locked, I sensed this would be a competition. I started a mental countdown from three. I was going to win this. I had to. My ancestors didn’t give their lives on far-off battlefields just to watch me lose from above.

Three, two, one. Why did my mouth instantaneously dry up the moment we started? My mind rushed with thoughts. My mouth, tongue, and esophagus were under an unanticipated amount of stress. And my body felt extremely tense. I had never experienced this much adrenaline in my life.

I spit, then he spit. While we maintained eye contact, I realized that I was losing this battle. Maybe he had an unfair advantage because of his muscular jawline or an overabundance of saliva? Either way, I didn’t leave my house to lose. But most importantly, I was not leaving this battleground without that prize.

Last semester in my anatomy class, we learned about an ancient technique that was used by some indigenous cultures to mass-produce saliva in instances of medical emergencies. They would fixate for a period of time on their jaw, shifting all their energy and concentration towards saliva production. And it worked. The only thing that was required was to do it while sitting upside down.

As I started shifting in my seat to a new position, I noticed that he had become distracted, along with everyone else in the basement, which meant his spitting ceased. This was good. His prefrontal cortex was clearly not developed enough to sustain unwavering concentration on the task at hand.

Just like I hoped, the technique began to work. As I looked at my rival in the eyes one last time, I knew that this was it. And he did too. I took one big breath and then, bam! 5 mL of saliva in the test tube.

He watched in humiliation as I left my test tube in the plastic holster at the desk. Somewhere far away, my ancestors cheered my name. Until next month, my rival.