Friday, 21 March 2008

Nose picking and other nasty habits

I have too many nasty habits to count, including smoking, sometimes biting my nails, often drinking too much, and almost always associating with unsuitable people.

But there are nasty habits and nasty habits, and some I just don’t get.

Two of them I grew up with: my father and my brother farted and picked their noses freely, and for reasons that remain unclear to me to this day, in our household it was somehow considered okay for ‘the men’ to do this, while ‘the women’ (my mother, my sisters and I) were required to blow our noses in private and indulge in flatulence far from the madding crowd.

How is this okay? Do men really believe that women think it’s not disgusting to watch someone mining their nasal passages (then, in my brother’s case, rolling the results and flicking it at us)? One of my sisters hit back at this prejudice by picking her nose through a tissue: she still does this, without shame, in public, on the grounds that if her actual finger doesn’t touch the snot, it doesn’t count. (And that’s how our families f*k us up.)

And I still don’t understand how lifting a butt cheek and letting rip in public is fine just because you’re male – because aren’t you, after all, also just an ordinary socialised human being?

Another of my sisters married a man who, in spite of exhibiting fierce intelligence and ordinary civility in most other spheres, couldn’t understand why having a grand ole ‘pump’ (as my late sainted mother used to call ‘breaking wind’ – and isn’t that just an adorable expression?), while all around were enjoying a port after dinner and perhaps some polite conversation about the latest croquet match, elicited such outrage.

‘Don’t be so naff!’ he’d say, curling his lip in a condescending way, as the echo reverberated around the room and the stench set in. ‘Don’t pretend you don’t fart too!’ (Well, yes, but, erm, not in front of Auntie Janet and Grannie Mop.)

The men in our lives also thought it just dandy to ‘readjust their tackle’ (as the saying goes, and I can’t tell you how depressed that makes me) whenever they felt like it. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to maintain eye contact, never mind my train of thought, when the person I’m speaking to is scrabbling about in his trousers.

Have you ever seen a woman do this? Okay, maybe we don’t have tackle to readjust, but have you ever had an itch down there that, even if your very life depended on it, you’d scratch in public? I think the eye-witness accounts of women having a jolly good skrommel in their pants in the ATM queue answers that question.

My father was also a great spitter in his day. And I don’t mean light saliva; I mean great green gobs of phlegm, dredged up from deep within himself. His favourite place to do this was in his car, out the driver’s window.

One of the crowning-glory moments of my childhood was when, as a passenger in the back seat of my father’s car, I heard him begin the process that meant a huge spewie was coming on: exaggerated neck undulations and copious throat clearing. Then he drew back his head, putting as much force into it as he could, shot his neck forward and spat out his window.

Which was closed.

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tonypark said...

I'm a bad car spitter and once did exactly as your father did.

I was presenting a course the other day and walked back into the training room to find a paricipant in the midst of a 'readjustment' so major that he'd felt compelled to undo his belt and unzip.

Most unsettling.

Anonymous said...

Oh NOW I know who you are!!!!
My goodness . . what a surprise.

meggie said...

o god, that the males feel they have the right to fart, burp, & nose pick in public.
Gom has many faults but those are none of them. Thank goodness!!

tonypark said...

Yes, m, what's with all the outing in the last couple of posts?

And Juno, what's happened to you?

Muriel said...

Tony, I reckoned if you could show your mug on your blog and pick up only a few web-stalkers as a result (most of whom live on other continents), I could take the risk too. Also, and more to the point, having finally got over my technophobia sufficiently to actually be able to post pics, I'm now getting all carried away.

'Anonymous' -- could that be you, T? I don't know anyone else who uses 'my goodness' as an expletive. In all seriousness.

Meggie, you're lucky with Gom! (And thanks for the Aaaaaw pics --I went 'aaaaw' at every one!)

Juno is away sunning herself on a beach for a few days. Lucky fish.

I've just finished doing a read-through of Tony's latest book (Tony, am I allowed to give its name yet?) and it's FABULOUS! Look out for it from July.

Juno said...

Oh my goodness, I have so many things to say in reply to this post that I don't know where to start.

Or fart.

So will put it all in a future blog post.

(In the meantime, yes, have been away, sunning oneself)