Yesterday, when I was stopped at a light on my way to the mall, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw that the guy in the car behind me was picking his nose. Just sitting there, one hand resting on the steering wheel, the other, balled into a fist with the index finger sticking out, rapidly and
eagerly exploring his nostril. Then the hand would go down behind the dash [quoteright]where I couldn't see it. I guess he could have been flicking it off onto the floor, but I got the impression he was wiping it on his pants. You know what "it" I'm talking about. Not his finger. I don't want to say it. Okay, I'll say it. Snot. Boogers.
Once his hand went down, not to flick or wipe, but to honk. I looked up and saw that the light had turned green. I guess I would've sat there watching him pick his nose until the cows came home if I could've.
When I was on the bottom floor of the mall, walking around aimlessly like I suspect most of the people who go to malls on weekends do, I saw a kid who was about four walking around with a half melted ice cream cone. His nose was running terribly. I looked at him and realized that if he took another bite of ice cream, the — you know what, I don't want to say it again — okay, I'll say it — snot would run from his face onto the ice cream, like the melted ice cream running down the cone onto his hand. God, what a gross thing! I got on the escalator and tried not to look back at the kid.
I'm not sure where I've gotten this fascination with nasal fluids lately. Well, no, I guess it's not a fascination, really. Just a guy in the car behind me picking his nose, and a kid with a runny nose in the mall. And my sister.
When I got home my sister was there. She lives up in Alabama with her no-good — uh, I mean, dear sweet husband (get the picture? What a creep! This guy keeps the same handkerchief around for a couple of weeks, until it's practically green from — you know what — snot, and even uses it to mop his sweaty brow with. Yuck!) and three kids, but sometimes she drops in unexpectedly to visit. She gave me a hug and said, "Heddo, Rah-burt," and I knew right away she was as congested as you could ever hope to be. Every few minutes she would sniff violently and it would sound like broken plumbing. I got a mental image of the Drano commercial where the cutaway pipe drains, only instead of the pipe, my sister's nasal passages, and instead of water — you know, snot.
For some reason I remembered something this morning. The scene in Ghostbusters, in the beginning, when they were in the basement of the library, and they came across these card catalogs covered with ectoplasmic reticulum, which is like the trails snails leave only left by ghosts. The tall thin Ghostbuster, whose name I don't remember but who was played by Harold Ramis, gave Bill Murray — Dr. Venkman? — a petri dish for samples. Bill Murray said, "Somebody blows their nose and you want to keep it!" I think Bill Murray did a skit like that on Saturday Night Live once, about a guy whose nose was running —
Aw, crap! Gross! I better quit writing this. I'm sitting here banging away at my typewriter, and all of a sudden I have this great big sneeze, and — yuck! — now this piece of paper is covered with — gross! — well, you know. I don't want to say it.
CHRISTOPHER BURDETT, who sends us his contributions on little blue Macintosh disks, is a student working toward a degree in writing. To develop an individual style, a professor advised him to "follow his nose." The result is printed in this issue.
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