A Nasal Revolution?

>> Thursday, August 9, 2007

Warning: The following essay contains graphic depiction of boogers. Read at your own risk.

“Mommy, I love my boogers!”

Elizabeth declares this to me with such sweetness, such enthusiasm, that at first it’s hard for me not to want to love her boogers, too. But then I realize — she’s talking about boogers.

“Oh, goodness, Elizabeth," I say with exasperation. "You do?” In retrospect, I realize I say this a lot to Elizabeth.

“I do! I love them sooo much! I like eating them, too. They’re my most favorite food!”

(deep breath, rub forehead) I didn’t realize her love affair with boogers had gone so far. “What do you like about them?” I’m always curious about motivation.

“They taste good (of course), and I like picking them. But I don’t like the flat ones, only the round ones.”

“You like the big juicy ones?” A part of me has surrendered.


I proceed to tell her all the logical, scientific, and social reasons for her to "break up" with her boogers. I list the facts:

• Boogers aren’t “good” -- that’s why our bodies try to get rid of them by sneezing. Our bodies don’t want them (and thus, neither should you).

• We get germs on our fingers from playing. When you pick your nose, you put germs in your body. It could make you sick. Do you wanna get sick? Do you?!

• People think it’s gross. Some people might not want to hang out with you if you pick your nose in front of them.

• etc...

But like all forbidden relationships, desire conquers all. And all that love and self-confidence we gave her since she was born? Well, it backfired. She now has enough self-confidence to love her boogers, with or without anyone’s approval.

In a way, like many of her quirks, I admire her for it.

Yes! I admire my booger-loving, nose-picking daughter!

There, I said it. Is there a support group for people like me?

I admire the freedom she has with her body, her lack of self-judgment. I love that she likes a part of herself that others have since learned to despise about themselves. She hasn’t yet learned to be awkward with her body and ashamed of its functions. She is happily human -- with all a human’s excretions and noises -- and that is such a joy to witness.

But perhaps I’m making too much of a bad habit. Perhaps I’m glorifying the obscene. Or, perhaps I understand too well the love she has for her boogers.

(...an image from my past is burbling up to the surface...)

My mother, exasperated by her only daughter’s habit, decides to write a song about said daughter in an attempt to dissuade her. It goes something like this:

"Her Mama said,
‘You're a mighty fine daughter, and I love ya, Rose,
but you'll never find a husband by a' pickin’ your nose.’"

Clearly my mother preferred social aversion therapy...

"The young man said,
‘You’re a mighty fine woman, and I’d like to propose,
but I don't much like it when you pick your nose.’”

Oh shit! If I don’t stop, I’ll never get married!

“But he returned and said,
‘I miss you sweetie, and I miss your nose.
I love you anyway, so will you marry me, Rose?’"

Clearly my mother also understood that desire conquers all and any man worth his salt would support his cute, nose-pickin’ girlfriend.

"Then the doctor said,
‘Congrats young man! Congrats Rose!’
And sure enough the babe was born a' pickin’ his nose.”

Brings a tear to my eyes.

Her song was not exactly dissuasive, but I got the point -- at least the part about scaring off potential mates. I privatized my habit and have the wedding ring to prove it. Unlike Rose and Elizabeth, I was too insecure to test Michael's love for me by insisting he love me and my habit.

But like the song, the nose-picking cycle continues, proving once again that life imitates art... and vice versa. Perhaps Lizzy will be secure enough to begin the Nasal Revolution.

Or maybe not.

(This essay was inspired by Sexagenarian and the City and her relationship with a Nasal Revolutionary.)

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