• Waterhole Branch

Nasal Academy . . . or . . . The Snot Lady of Waterhole Branch

By Suzanne Hudson

Photo (above): Dr. James Francis “Jimmy” Ryan, named for a character in Waffle House Rules (above), one of three county-wide reads for the Baldwin County, AL 200 bicentennial, 2018-2019; note in particular Jimmy’s cute little wet doggy nose, as it is relevant to this tale.

“They” say it all the time, so I suppose it’s at least kinda sorta true. People tend to put their best face forward on The Facebook Machine, tossing out gourmet tidbits of their enviable lives, the lauding of passels of fresh-faced children who can do no wrong, and achievements that elevate our own latest failures to such heights as to warrant a forever shaming. Yes, there are some drama kings and queens out there who seem to have no social filter, some deliberately nasty trolls who live to inflict their self-hating misery onto others, and even a few soul-baringly honest truth tellers who actually do good work in net world, elucidating, providing insight, who could actually qualify to be a part of the helping professions I have praised in a previous “Note” (see “Matriculation,” 8/18/18). And, while I’m not the type to go into the deepest, darkest, most personal of the fractures in my relationships and in my soul (I handle the bulk of that through my “fiction”), I don’t shy away from poking a couple of bears every now and then. In fact, sometimes I can be relentlessly retaliatory (they do, after all, have it coming; I warn EVERYONE not to ever, ever, piss off a writer--especially one as hard to piss off as I am; ask anyone I worked with for thirty years--I’m easy as hell to get along with, truly). But in spite of my aim at those who have their come-uppance, um, coming, I try to do it with humor. I maintain it is more redemptive that way, that I won’t, for example, go to hell for being too vengeful. “They” say God has a sense of humor, after all.

But maybe I’m just rationalizing.

THE POINT IS that as I read through earlier “Notes” on this page I decided we need a lot more of said humor, to balance out the yes, the really humorous take down of the forces of evil in my universe. Sure, I’m working through some anger and bitterness, but I know that laughter is really my best friend. So I thought I’d tell a little story about what happened to me the other day. It’s not a thing you’d see most folks put out there, write about on Facebook---definitely not my “best face” forward. But here goes:

Joe and I have been sickly of late, knocked back by the creeping crud that moves mucus around, between your sinuses, nostrils, chest, periodically thrusting it out into the ether via big ol’ screaming sneezes or rumbling, muscle-straining coughs--you know, mushroom clouds of germy moisture looking to hone in on the next victim. Nothing fever-inducing, like, say, strep or flu--merely the garden variety crud--the Kudzu of the common cold. We were homebound for days, turning into weeks.

Finally, I had to go out, run some errands, take my poor little not-so-white-anymore white dawg to the groomers for a makeover, mail some books, general roaming. Our car was in the shop so I borrowed a relative’s Jaguar, which in itself was disorienting, as I am so not the Jaguar type. I carried with me two puny wads of toilet paper with which to contain my snotty secretions.

I won’t go into every detail, because you know how it is when you’re miserable, needing to get things done . . . BUT the first time a salesperson takes a dismissive attitude toward you, which happened as I was trying to explain something that was quite important to me . . . when that happens, and you’re already miserable, you go to pieces, you crumble, make a dash for the car, which I did, got in just in time to boo-hoo (and y’all, I am NOT a boo-hoo-er) into my already damp nose dabbers. I fumbled for that stupid button--where the hell have car keys gone and why?--to start the car. And I fumbled. And fumbled. And . . . it dawned upon me that I was not in said Jaguar; I was in another little black car--the one I had parked behind.

Ergo the Walk of Shame to the correct vehicle. Defeated, I decided to get Jimmy and go home to lick my wounds.

Just as I pulled up to Clippendale’s came a volcanic sneeze--you know the kind--it overwhelmed my impotent little bunches of tissue, virtually baptizing the whole of the car’s interior with contagion, but I mopped at the ol’ nostrils as best I could and went in for James. I needed my dawg. He would understand my misery and nurse me and put his paw on my leg and let me know that all the doggie concern in the world was his, with his beloved owner.

Only I humiliated my dear Jimmy. And myself.

As I was reaching into my wallet, head down, standing there at the counter, in front of the proprietor, I saw it--on the upper front of my dress--the left side, over toward the heart. I could almost hear “Taps” being played, when I saw that ick from my nose--the ick my doused toilet paper had failed to catch. I’m not talking about a spot, people. I’m talking about an oil slick, shimmering with newness and about half the size of my left boob. No one, but no one, could have missed it. The only thing to do was tug my “jacket” over the offending effluvium, pay as quickly as possible, and drag my blatantly blushing canine to the fancy black car, a vehicle in which I clearly did not belong; people who drive Jaguars never have snot. And they don’t go to the bathroom, either.

Of course, there will be no redemption from that public humiliation. I fear that forevermore, at Clippendale’s doggy salon, I shall be know as “That Old Snot Lady” by the army of groomers, who are truly lovely folks, undeserving of that horror to which I subjected them. Will they visibly recoil the next time I enter? Should I just cut my losses and switch to another doggie parlor? Or, maybe here, in the retelling of it all, maybe here I can find some kind words of encouragement. Maybe I will even feel liked, even without that little blue “thumbs up” thingy. Maybe someone will appreciate this tale of my wayward nasal passages, my booger-y Waterloo. My watery booger-loo?

The up side, and there is one, and it is this: my once upon a time wanna-be publicist probably would have never “allowed” (we’re talking a seriously bossy individual) me to post about such as this (see the “Note” titled “What Do You Do When You’re Branded,” 6/23/18) as it would not fit the intended “narrative” of “who I am” as an author--you know, all of that phony baloney business that resides in author world. To that I say, “Balderdash!” I know exactly who I am:

I am the Snot Lady.

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