when i was growing up, my life was ever-changing. different teachers. different sports teams. new friends. new experiences. places i’d never been before. ideas i’d never heard before. always something new. always something different.
but there was one thing…
…that was always consistent. like the Word of God, it stayed the same. and it seemed that it would be the Alpha and the Omega of my time on this earth. i woke up with it. i had breakfast with it. i took it everywhere i went. i shared my day with it. i went to bed with it. it encompassed every aspect. of everything. it was like a siamese twin. and if i had to sum up my young life, in just one word, it would be my choice above all else. it concisely described my existence, from as far back as i can remember, ’til about the age of 18. it was…
snot was my life. my everything. like david cassidy to a 14 year-old girl in 1972. except i didn’t have posters of it all over my wall. i didn’t need posters. my paneling was probably covered with the real thing.
i had problems.
problems which eventually led me to the Bessemer Public Health Clinic. a wondrous place, i assure you. twice a week. for my afternoon allergy shot. what fun it was to wait an hour in a room full of sick and miserable people after school. so i could get stuck with a needle.
i was allergic, as it turned out, to everything. my mom kept an immaculate house, and yet i still was constantly afflicted. so she had to put everything in my closet, and everything under my bed, in garbage bags. and i couldn’t have goosefeather pillows. and i couldn’t be around dust. and i couldn’t be exposed to pollen. which, in Alabama, is an SOL situation.
chalkboard erasers were a hated foe. even the erasers on pencils, when in use. and the shavings from the pencil sharpener? bad news. everywhere i turned, i was surrounded by enemies.
and so, i had snot. lots, and lots, and lots, and LOTS, of snot. every morning, i had two eggs. not for breakfast: i woke up and emptied a yolk from each nostril. sometimes yellow. sometimes greenish brown. sometimes thick as taffy. i went to school, and guess what? more snot. “can i please be excused? i need to go to the bathroom and blow my nose.” “son, we have some kleenex here at the front of the class.” uh…how about NO WAY. you don’t understand, lady. i don’t need to just blow a little clear moisture out of my dewy sinus passages…i need to unload what will look like a pound of Gak and sound like a locomotive passing right outside your trailer park window.
and so, for me, snot wasn’t just a problem. it was a lifestyle.
when i would spend the night with jason next door, his mom would always have a fresh box of kleenex waiting for me. i’d sleep on the bottom bunk, and by the time the sun came up, beside me on the floor would be a countless number of used tissues, lying next to—and stuffed inside of—an otherwise now-empty box.
sometimes, i’d blow my nose for 5 minutes straight, trying to get it all out. and it would just keep coming. like clowns from a car. like a magician’s handkerchief. where was i keeping all this stuff? on the thicker days, it would sometimes be like a rope, and you could literally pull it out, inch by inch. or foot by foot. ever see the bassist for Skid Row? that was me, without the need for piercing.
and it didn’t just come out of my nose. allergies/sinus trouble = coughing and sneezing. coughing and sneezing = pulling the trigger on a loaded weapon. i had a double barreled shotgun–or snotgun–and my nose and mouth could fire simultaneously. think more powerful than a 12 gauge; think experimental military strength. with a hairpin trigger. it could happen at the drop of a hat, with little to no warning, and there was no way to plug both barrels; that would’ve surely blown my brains out of my ears. and when these explosions happened, rarely could i get to a kleenex in time. sometimes i used my notebook as a blockade, but that only protected my classmates from the line of fire; it didn’t address my own personal mess: if i actually got to a tissue, of course, i was unable to just pull it away from my face post-sneeze. i was gonna have to take care of some business. in private.
many times in high school, i would be sitting in class, and sneeze or cough suddenly. then, like Ben Stiller in There’s Something About Mary, i’d quickly begin my search, frantically feeling around my face…my chin, my cheek, checking my shirt…looking all over my books and desk…where was it? was it a clean sweep this time? did nothing happen? yessss!!!! but then, inevitably, i’d notice a giant green blob on the back of someone’s chair maybe four people in front of me and to the right. no one had noticed the projectile. you know the saying…”faster than a speeding bullet.”
and such was the life of wade haynes.
my condition gradually improved, to the point where, in my mid-twenties, i would still have to blow my nose throughout the day, but it was only clear and watery, and my face could no longer be considered a firearm. and as for physical consistency: all my life, it had been only liquid, or congealed liquid…but never anything…solid.
it was the only gift of my condition. in 10th grade, i might cough and propel a large gelatinous glob into your ponytail, but i never had to check my nose in the mirror for a crusty “stranger.”
and then, recently:
it blew me away. i was shocked. i was perplexed. i was speechless.
i made the most bizarre discovery.
about a month and a half after i was let out of the hospital,
i really wanted to commemorate the occasion. i would invite you all to send me cards, but Hallmark doesn’t have a card that says “Your First Booger.”
and that’s what it was.
i don’t know why. i don’t know how.
the timing could be coincidental…
…but the night of my hospitalization, what precipitated my most intense pain was an outrageous outpouring of snot. a torrential downpour. the tumor sits just behind my sinuses. right behind my pituitary gland. could it be that this happening changed my mucusmaking forever? i’ve had several since the initial…uh…one. if i could go back in time, right after i retrieved that first solid manifestation of phlegm, i would stomp on a glass bottle and yell “Mazel Tov!” i had no idea it was ushering in a new era. it’s not necessarily a good era. i was a man blessed above all men (and women, sadly) for a while there…now i’m just an average nobody. i get to live the rest of my life like a schnook. …sorry, that was from the last lines of Goodfellas.
i guess maybe that’s what i can call my new…friends. “good fellas”…well, maybe not. either way, my life is different now. i’m like everybody else. and i’ll have to learn to adjust. i’m sure in time, i will.
being normal stinks.
but could this be another effect of may 12th? is it possible? what the heck happened on that night? what is in my head? and what did it do? hopefully, the angiogram will provide some answers…
until then…i will wait.