Sunday, October 05, 2003

Because I feel the need to somehow make up for the post that I deleted (and because I really don't want to do the next 20 items in the "about me" list that I'm doing), I've decided to share a humiliating story with you.

I've always been a curious person. Most everything would elicit a "why?" from me. I wanted to know exactly why and how things happened. And I was a skeptic. I wanted proof for anything I heard. "Just because I say it's true" was never enough for me. I imagine my teachers hated me. Or maybe they liked me because I wasn't some sort of dead-eyed pubescent zombie.

This somewhat sets the stage for the story. Here is the next piece.

I watched a lot of cartoons. One of the well-used comic devices in cartoons is the inhalation of pepper or snuff to cause sneezing.

I assume you see where this is going.

The final piece in this puzzle is the fact that I was a latchkey kid. My parents were divorced and my mother, with whom I lived, worked downtown. This left me to my own devices after school for the better part of three hours a day.

One day, having finished my homework like the good little overachiever I was, I found myself with nothing to do. And nothing to watch on tv. And no friends to hang out with. And, most importantly, no supervision.

Sitting at the kitchen table, where I had done my homework, I found myself idly wondering if snorting pepper would indeed make me sneeze. One would assume that in the back of my mind there was a little voice warning me not to do it. Nope. The little voice was saying what a capital idea it was and I should give it a shot posthaste. Sadly, I failed to realize that my little voice was giggling as it said this. Bastard.

I poured a little ground black pepper in my hand, took a fairly large pinch between my thumb and forefinger, held it to my nose and snorted for all I was worth.

It took maybe a millisecond before my head exploded in a flash of blinding pain.

In the cartoons, when a character snorts pepper, often after being tricked into doing so, he normally sneezes with a theatrical "Ah . . . ah . . . ah . . . CHOO!!!!!" and blows himself a step or two backwards. Sometimes, he will blow himself entirely out of the frame of the cartoon. But the important thing is, he sneezes once and only once.

I didn't sneeze once and only once. I'm not sure that what I did even qualifies as sneezing. It was more like my body, realizing that my sinuses were a lost cause, simply decided to expel them en masse from my head. This resulted in something that resembled an epileptic fit more than an episode of sneezing. As if this weren't bad enough, every orifice on my face that could secrete or otherwise leak fluid, did so with abandon. I imagine the effect looked eerily like something out of the scene in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' where the Ark is opened and the Nazis melt, explode or some combination of the two.

It took about a minute for the sneezing fits to pass. A minute that seemed like an eternity. Once it settled down somewhat, I tried to wipe the combination of drool, snot and tears off my face so I could see well enough to find my glasses which I had somehow managed to fling across the room. I started wiping at my eyes, which were watering profusely. I wiped them with my thumb and forefinger. My pepper-coated thumb and forefinger.

Pepper. Eyes. I can't even begin to explain what it feels like. Suffice to say, it wasn't pleasant and didn't aid in the search for my glasses.

Eventually the pain and secretions subsided to the point where I could wash my hands and face, find my glasses and change my shirt. And while I wound up a little puffy around the eyes and with a healthy aversion for black pepper, I was not really the worse for wear.

Though I hope never to go through something like that again, I must say that I've gotten a great deal of mileage out of the story. And of course my friends are laughing with me, not at me. At least that's what they all tell me.

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