I was recounting for a teacher friend of mine tonight the emotional scar that lingers in me from fourth grade. I believed that I had a moment to duck in, give a quick scratch to the inside of my left nostril and extricate the offending booger nugget that was causing my eyes to water with its crusty occlusion of my sinus passage. My index finger was poised for the operation when, from behind me came a sneering voice, "Pick a good one, Dave!" It was Joel Hobbs catching me red handed (and abruptly red-faced). I was labeled for a good four years for that one.
My parents did me the favor of catching another such digital insertion in the family photo album. Naked baby pictures? Bring 'em on - but pictures of me rooting around in search of nasal treasure? No thanks. This photo was further immortalized by the careful artistic rendering of that moment by a family friend for my thirtieth birthday card.
I don't claim to have a great many attributes. I'm a good father and husband. I obey traffic laws. I pay my taxes on time. I volunteer my time and I sign the right petitions. And yes, I have picked my nose - on at least two separate and highly publicized occasions.
Why can't I live down this stigma? Is it because I must suppress my ever-present urge to ram my finger up to my third knuckle and probe for something sticky? I feel it the way I feel the rest of my latent nerd-ness. I played better chess than baseball. I read the novelization of Star Wars before the movie opened. I was in band for all of junior high and high school. I liked math. The list goes on and on - but nose picker? I have to draw the line somewhere. I imagine a 12 step program somewhere: "Hi, my name's Dave and I'm a nose picker."
So, I told this story to my teacher friend, and in exchange I got a nice embarrassing story from her. It took away some of the sting. But I guess that's the exchange, after all.