December 20, 2002

"Oh, The Things I've Inhaled,"

"Oh, The Things I've Inhaled," c. Ryan Rhodes, Dec. 16, 2002

A friend of mine recently related the harrowing tale of how his young son accidentally got a pen cap stuck in his nose.

I won't go into all the details, because the process of getting a pen cap stuck in one's nose is really pretty self-explanatory. You take a pen cap, place it in your nose, and inhale. Everything from that point on is a doctor's visit followed by heaps of embarrassment.

I didn't pass judgment on my friend's young son, primarily because, even though I've never gotten a pen cap stuck in my nose, I live with the daily belief that it's just a matter of time before I do. I'm only partially kidding here. Given my track record for inhaling stupid things, I don't think getting a pen cap lodged in my nose is that big of a stretch.

When I was fairly young, well, old enough to know better, but fairly young all the same, I briefly got a button stuck in my nose.

I was with my mother grocery shopping, and I was enduring the interminable waiting process of going through the check-out aisle. For a child, waiting in the check-out aisle is akin to time standing still. When I wasn't asking my mother to "buy me this," I was fidgeting with everything and anything within reach.

Well, on that particular outing, I noticed a loose button on my shirt, and with a few quick tugs, I liberated it from its few remaining threads. I contented myself with my new toy as any male child would: I repeatedly placed it in my nose and huffed it out forcefully back into my palm. For me, this qualified as great fun. Of course, you can see the inevitable conclusion of such a pastime.

Sure enough, as I got braver and braver, the button went further and further up my nose, until. . . voila, it wouldn't come out. Despite my best nasal wailing, I couldn't dislodge the button from my left nostril. My mother eventually asked me if everything was all right and, even though I had my pinkie buried knuckle deep in my nose trying to pick out the button, I would admit to nothing.

Finally, as my mother and I made our way to the exit, I closed my right nostril, said a silent prayer, and initiated the hardest farmer blow I could muster. A two second high-pitch squeak ensued, followed by the glorious release of the button, which launched about six feet and came to rest in a candy display. I like to think it settled in amongst the Snickers bars, but I'll never know.

Not all inhalations are necessarily of the hard plastic kind, however. No, I was also guilty of a far more dangerous form of inhalation, even though I had no idea at the time just how dangerous my actions were.

As a very young child, I totally loved the smell of Endust, although I don't know why exactly. I think I liked it because it reminded me of freshly dusted furniture. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed dropping my nose on a newly dusted surface and sniffing the lingering aroma of Endust. I decided, however, that this simply wasn't enough.

One day, I pilfered the Endust from my mother's cleaning closet and steeled myself in the back room den, where I perched in front of a window, removed the Endust cap, and promptly sprayed the cap halfway full with Endust.

Here was pure, undiluted Endust for my smelling enjoyment. I could hardly wait. I dropped my nose into the capful of Endust and took a long, long sniff. What happened next was something that my small mind and body could not totally understand.

I lifted my head from the cap, only to realize that things weren't quite right. My field of vision was just a haze of blinking stars, and I remember things going suddenly black before I toppled backward off my perch near the window. I didn't realize it at the time, but I probably killed about a quarter of my fledgling brain cells.

What I did realize was, after I came to and found myself lying on my back, and after an intense wave of nausea finally passed, I no longer liked the smell of Endust. I despised the smell of Endust. I wanted nothing more to do with Endust. In fact, to this day, I can't even stand the thought of dusting, although that may not have anything to do with Endust.

In order for me not to do something stupid, I apparently have to do it first. So you see, it's probably just a matter of time before I get a pen cap stuck in my nose.

Posted by Ryan at December 20, 2002 06:52 PM
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