Thursday, March 24, 2005


Those kind and discerning visitors who may remember my earlier brief take herein on the profound and highly cultured lack of noseblowing in Japan may also remember in that post this deathless quote: "...if the Japanese have a runny nose they wear a gauze mask. That's right, they let their noses run free."

Well that is true (we post no lies), but it's not the entire truth (in some cases half-truths are preferable), as was brought sonorously home to me on the train this morning, in fact on many occasions that never really registered other than as part of the myraid minor annoyances of daily life we simply filter out with that delicate screen of tranquility we seek to build about our lives, but there are times when those little annoyances rip right into that flimsy jerry-built contrivance like a giant nose into a tiny Kleenex.

The fact is that there's another school of mucus management practiced by the younger set in Japan, and I don’t mean the sniffles of a two-year-old, I’m talking professional level here, 15 ~ 25 years old, predominantly the high school years, when who really cares anyway since it’s all temporary (the donning of a formal salariman suit seems to make the wearers dry out a bit).

Today’s mucosal management alternative was brought upon me, so to speak, in a manner that evoked the impending destruction of the Seven Gorges Dam (when completed, of course): it was a high schooler standing right next to where I was seated, his nose right above my head, which nose would, about every 15 seconds, with surprising regularity - determined I suppose by the volume and nature of the material being kept in check; one ponders such things when seated beneath the Nose of Damocles – give a great snort and so retain the entire mass, at least for another 15 seconds. This went on for 30 minutes or so, which, as in the case of the renowned Chinese Water Torture, is equivalent to about a year in real time.

When he finally took his nose off the train and a more tolerable regularity returned to life as I know it, I felt once again the joy that surpasseth understanding like a pair of empty nostrils.

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