Tuesday, September 6, 2011


(Warning: This is a pretty grody prime example that some things just don’t need to be written about.)

The soft glow from the night light spread under the bed to where I lay on an air mattress across the room. Exhausted from the nine hour trip it took us to get to my grandparent’s house in Maryland, my parents and sister were asleep, as were the other people in the house, my grandparents and two uncles. I remember being too excited for sleep as I pondered the room's familiar details: Chatters, my grandmother’s humongous stuffed mouse whose nose lit up when you turned the light off; the slight smell of must and dirty socks and Pappy’s aftershave; the yellow antique lamps on the nightstand. But mostly I remember it was Christmas, I was 5, ecstatic about being at Mamaw’s house—and I was picking my nose.
Memories are something like cake batter on blender beaters—most of them fall down to blend in with the rest of the mundane details of life, but the severely random ones stick somehow to the crevices of my mind. For instance, I remember that the sheet pattern was of mallard ducks—and each duck had a little cream colored dot behind its eye (or at least this is how I remember it). As my brain raced with the present jostling and grandparent manipulation of the next several Christmas-seasoned days, I began to dig, deep in concentration. I was a roller—you know what I mean. One minute it was on my fingers and the next it had leaped into the vast expanse of the sheets. At first I was content to let it go. Then, I began to contemplate what Danny would say.
Uncle Danny, my mom’s baby brother, was only 12 and took pleasure in tormenting my sister and me—me in particular, for there were just so many things to provide him ammunition: my poof-ball pig tales, pudgy tummy, speech impediment, or constant thumb in my mouth. Great, one more thing. If Danny finds that booger I’m done for. It was the nail to pound into my coffin of humiliation. I didn’t, of course, think in those terms, but I began to search furtively for that tiny ball of rubberized nasal drainage. What if Mamaw finds it while she’s putting the sheets in the washer, I wondered, clearly never having done laundry before to know that one rarely scrutinizes the content of sheets before washing them.
I lay awake for a child’s hours, worrying about that missing booger. Sleep finally came with the consolation of that little cream dot behind the mallard’s head. Maybe, just maybe, I hoped, the booger would camouflage itself on one of those dots so that no one would find it. Until this moment of disclosure not a soul knew of the booger.
Nowadays, I don’t make a habit of picking my nose. But I’ve never been able to break my habit of preoccupying myself with the irrelevant, irrational worries over what people will think about the boogers of my personality quirks, of my weight, my wardrobe, and other trifles that don’t really matter. I work my mind into a frenzy, worrying about what people will think, and finally console myself with the many ways that they might overlook the faults. When in reality I am just another sheet that they encounter in their day to day routine—and they probably never notice any of those little boogers at all.

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