hung by my own nose hairs

Today, when I got home from work, I ran upstairs, grabbed some scissors, shoved them up my nostrils and began the task of pruning the two great shrubs that Id been cultivating. Linette had been bugging me to do it for the past few months and Id been putting it off. Today, at 9:20 AM, I realized that Id been putting it off far too long.

At 9:00 this morning, we began shooting staff photos for my offices 2003 annual report. The first shot went fine. The photographer was above us, shooting down. We were standing on a marble staircase. With the second shoot, he decided to get artsy though. He had us stand in a circle in the buildings rotunda, beneath an impressive domed ceiling. He wiggled into the middle of the circle on his belly and began shooting up at us, commanding us to, lean further over the lens. It was at this point, I remembered Linette and the long, dangling hairs that shed been telling me about.

From that point onward, I was obsessed by they fact that he was shooting directly up, into my nose. And there was no way to hide it either. I began to sweat. I tried to suck lots of air up through my nose, hoping that some hairs would come back in the process. Nothing seemed to work. I nervously ran my finger beneath my nose between shots and I could feel what seemed like a toothbrush.

Later, just after that shoot, someone I work with took me aside to point out that my left eye was full of blood again. I, fearing the worst, assumed that I was having a stroke and went into the bathroom to splash some water on my face. In the bathroom, looking at my bloody right eye in the mirror, I was suddenly jerked out of my panic by the site of the nose hairs, like giant octopus tentacles wrestling with my upper lip as if it were the submarine from 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea. They were out of control. I could literally grab onto them and wrap them completely around the tip of my index finger Any thought of strokes had been trumped by this ungodly mess.

I tried quickly to pluck one of the longest hairs, but it hurt too much. I ended up trying to stuff them up inside the nostrils. Luckily the photos were over, but I still had a day worth of meetings to attend. (How could Linette have been letting me leave the house like this?)

At some point during the course of the day, I got reflective. I began to think that somewhere, in a grave in Kentucky, the corpse of a proud old man was spinning like a rotisserie chicken. Maybe Im being na´┐Że, but I cant imagine that any male in the Maynard clan, up till this point, had ever cared about such things. Who knows? Maybe they were all plucking nose hairs and waxing eyebrows. Maybe men folk in Kentucky rewarded themselves with seaweed facials after slaughtering the hogs and hauling their crops to market. I cant imagine such things taking place on the farm, but you never know. At any rate, I felt a bit vain for caring about such things. To me it seemed dangerously close to pedicure territory. (Speaking of this, there was an article in yesterdays New York Times concerning what are being called Metrosexuals, supposedly straight men who dye their hair, paint their toenails, wear perfume and do all the things that have traditionally fallen under the domain of women. I havent read the article yet, but I think it has something to do with the marketing of sexually non-threatening boy bands.)

Oh, on the subject of nose hair, I have one other story to share. About six years ago, when I was living in DC, I was eating dinner at a bar. I was just sitting there, by myself, eating, when a man and a woman walked up to the bar and placed their order. I got the feeling that they were on their first date. Anyway, they ordered their drinks. The bartender then asked the woman for her ID, but not the man. The man, trying to make conversation, asked the bartender why he didnt get IDd. The bartender just said, I can tell youre old enough. The kid smiled, I guess feeling kind of mature, and pressed the point. How can you tell? My guess is that the guy was expecting to hear the bartender say, I can tell that youve had your share of women and/or adventures. Instead, he just said, I can tell, thats all. They went back and forth about three times while the bartender was making the drinks. The man would keep pushing and the bartender would keep kindly putting him off. Finally, after being asked the third time, the bartender said flatly, I can tell because of the hair growing out of your nose. That doesnt happen to people under 21. The poor guy looked as though hed had his heart torn out.

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