Monday, November 30, 2009


My work these days takes me to George Washington University several days a week. (I ride Metro to get there, and I nominate for the Annual Puerility Award the train conductor who gets such glee out of announcing, "Train now arriving at... Foggy... Bottom!")

A few days ago, it was raining quite hard. I stood out in front of an administration building, under an awning, keeping out of the tempest, waiting for a colleague. A rather large group of people was waiting in the lobby -- East Asian businessfolk, perhaps Japanese. They milled around, waiting for something. (It turned out later that they were waiting for an escort to another building.)

A middle-aged gent stepped outside -- black wool suit, glasses, hatless. Leaning over a flowerbed and closing a nostril with his thumb, he blew a gigantic snot-rocket into the foliage. A couple of monstrous honks satisfied him that his projectile had indeed cleared his sinuses, and he turned and went back into the lobby. Slightly embarrassed, I turned away as if I hadn't seen anything.

A few minutes later a second gent came outside, and occupied the same spot where his colleague had stood. I am quite sure he hadn't seen the earlier cannonade. He regarded the flowerbed with interest -- clearly, the impatiens, bedewed with the steady rain and his countryman's mucosal ejecta, had evoked thoughts of the evanescence of existence and the fleeting nature of life. Out came the camera, and he started snapping away at the flowerbed -- aiming it directly at the spot where the phlegm-fusillade had struck not three minutes earlier.

I turned away again, but this time to hide the contented smile that comes to one's face when one's day is made.


noblesavage said...

Perhaps someday I can share the picture book I made of different types of public vomit you can find on Tokyo's subway platforms, with the appropriate slang term for that color/viscosity. The salaryman does not share our prissy anxiety about the public display of humors. Lafcadio Hearn never got around to that.

Q+Red said...

Roses are red
Boogers are blew.
The blower fed
The flower bed.

(Glad to have you back, Ned.)

thestoic said...

"Snot-rocket." Ah, he's back.

Douglas Jerrold said...

Happiness grows at our own firesides, and is snot to be picked in strangers' gardens.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

up here in Cow Country we call it the "farmer-blow".

kathleenmaher said...

I thought for sure the second gentleman was going to do likewise; that you and we would learn how the impatiens silently called out "here, we're the place."
Perhaps the photograph will carry the message home, though, and the flowers will soon soak in offerings a thousand strong.

Anonymous said...

Oh sheesh! I am soooo tired of people spewing their unwanted body fluids all over the place.

Geez.. it's a wonder we don't all have TB.

There is hardly an hour that I don't see someone hocking an oyster in public. I think it's gross and a public health risk.

Just call me Prissy! ... and alarmed at the germs these inconsiderate fools may be spreading.