Have you ever found yourself in a crowd of people thoroughly annoyed by one single rotten apple who does her oblivious best to ruin the day for everybody around her… and realized that said wormfood was you?
Sigh. I swear I didn’t mean it.
So there I am, watching I Hate Luv Storys in a packed house and my body up and decides that this is an excellent time to get rid of the five tons of phlegm it has apparently been hoarding for days. Does it leak out of my nose like all well-mannered mucus ought to? NO!
My mucus believes in a dramatic entrance. It chooses to erupt from my body in a series of violent sneezes that went on – I kid you not! – for a solid half hour at three minute intervals. At first, I thought I could employ the discreet and possibly medically-frowned-upon tactic of all people struck by inconvenient sneezes: pinch my nose and whuffle it.
[Yes, I said “whuffle”. The next time you work up a sneeze, pinch your nose and force it to die inside your body instead of whistling out your nasal cavity. That sound you hear of capillaries bursting is called a whuffle. And if you want to prove me wrong, you come up with a term for it, smartass.]
I whuffled the first one and it hurt. My nose does not approve of whuffling. It believes in freedom of expression. I whuffled the second time with greater care and ended up with nosey on my fingers. Yech. I fished out a paper towel, which is what I use in lieu of handkerchiefs like all intelligent people who prefer to throw away any bits of material smeared with their bodily emissions rather than tucking it carefully back in their pocket to be laundered lovingly at home. When the next sneeze came hurtling out my nose, I caught it in the quilted, quadruple-strength confines of my paper towel.
HONK! said my nose. HONK! HONK!
Now, it’s true that I turn into a kindergartner when confronted by mucus but I was never the kind of kid who attempted an on-the-spot PhD on her goobers or ate them or anything bleurgh like that. But I too am a human being and there is nothing quite like clearing your blocked nasal passages of phlegm. Clear your throat, blow your nose, pick it clean – it’s like it massages some special nerve center in your brain and whispers, “There, there. It’s going to be all right now.” You breathe in, your lungs expand, nothing gargles inside your skull, you’re not swallowing gobs of matter with your spit – and whaddya know? It really is all right now! I perked up.
And that’s when the sneezing fit began. One sneeze, two sneeze, three sneeze, four. A sneeze there, a sneeze here, a sneeze-sneeze everywhere! Skeevy sneeze, steezy sneeze, snotty sneeze, snooty sneeze. Snooze a sneeze! Wheeze!
My brain, being all jostled about, decided that this spasm couldn’t possibly last and what’s a few sneezes in a theater resounding with Bollywood cheer? Especially when muffled by my trusty industrial strength paper towel? I’d cleaned entire counters with a single sheet of these bad boys, so what was a sneeze or one million? So I crunched my abdominal muscles, crossed my legs, closed my eyes and hunkered down for the violence to end. A staccato series of sneezes later, I opened my eyes.
There, in my hand, I clutched the pitifully wadded remains of my damp and steadily disintegrating paper towel. FALSE ADVERTISING! Boooo! (How quickly I turn.)
Gingerly, I felt my nose. I couldn’t be sure without a torch to shine up my nasal cavity and a mirror to better study it, but it felt like I was missing skin. I’d definitely lost a few hairs by the root in the late struggle. Ow. I briefly contemplated opening up the solid mass of paper and mucus that I held to further investigate but as I mentioned earlier – I’m really not that kind of kindergartner.
However. It was really kind of dark in that theater. Maybe I could discreetly insert the tip of one finger to check the state of affairs in my nose? I cast a furtive look around to see if it was light enough for anyone to make out what I was up to.
… and met the eyes of everybody three rows deep to the front and back of my seat. It was like one of those scenes from Children of the Corn where individual parents turn around from their everyday tasks to be confronted by the phalanx of creepy kids except in this case I was the creepy kid and everyone staring at me was desi, grown up, and most definitely not expressionless. Thankfully, another significant difference was that nobody attacked me with a sickle. My people are so polite.
I quietly offered up a mumbled “sorry” to the universe rather than the uncle in front whose neck I’d probably sprayed with a few billion of my germs and did what I ought to have done 30 minutes earlier: skedaddled to the restroom to wash my puffy face, my germy hands and my poor tender nose. Then I bought myself a hot cup of tea to nurse and sidled back inside.
Coz I’m thickskinned like that.