right under her nose
Brenda is an ugly girl. It plays no part in the story but I felt it was important to point it out nevertheless. Perhaps it makes me feel better about myself … but that’s neither here nor there. She struggles with a good many things that somehow involve either her body or her mind. Most of these struggles come down to deciding which of them is the dog and which is the tail.
Brenda is the greatest type of rebel, the kind of rebel that doesn’t know how rebellious they are. They keep all their fights internal so the rest of the world misses out on just how wonderful these fights are.
When she was just a child you had an experience with a microscope that forever changed how she saw boogers. When she peered through the little lens she saw a lump of green covered with long black objects squirming and lashing all over it. She practically leapt back from the apparatus. She was so rattled by what she saw that she had to take another look just to confirm the nightmarish scenario she had just witnessed. She applied her eye to the hole and was once again greeted with dozens of twitching snakes that suddenly confirmed to her all of the advice she had been given up to that point about not eating anything that came out of your nose. There were little devils in there.
Flustered and wiser she went back to putting insects under the microscope as she was supposed to have been doing all along.
From that point on she went about the task of blowing her nose with all the same protocols that are usually reserved for handling plutonium.
It wasn’t until college that she had another opportunity to work with a microscope again and it allowed her to have another revelation regarding not only boogers but advice, knowledge and childhood in general. She was tasked to examine some leaves and lo and behold what did she discover? That these leaves were covered with the very same long black objects squirming away on them.
She then realized that they were her eyelashes.
The blood ran out of her face and those surrounding her thought she was about to pass out due to some strange fear of leaves.
She had been terrified of boogers for the better part of ten years because of her eyelashes. The trappings of science had aided and abetted this fear. She marveled how a brief childhood moment could have such long-lasting implications. Like how the way she processed uncertainty was unalterably altered when her beloved uncle, a big hunter, one day invited her to accompany him on a crapshoot. I don’t consider unalterably altered redundant so much as emphasizing to you just how altered it was.
She retreated to her dorm room to do some serious thinking. The floodgates were opening and she needed a floatation device. It started to make sense to her. How could boogers be harmful?
Why do kids eat them without provocation? Are they delicious?
Brenda started to chew her nails. They weren’t delicious but she enjoyed the sensation anyway.
If she would have put a scab under the microscope as a child would it have prevented her from picking them off and eating them as she’d been in the habit of doing?
She never ate what was under her nails because that could have been anything. The nail and scabs seemed somehow more organic because her body produced them. She would sometimes chew the calluses off her feet. They weren’t delicious but they had a pleasant rubbery texture. She never had the desire to taste the white innards of a zit but on occasion there would be a hard little nodule that would pop out and she got all bon appetit on it.
Was it time to add boogers to the menu?
The unjustified fear she still felt about boogers and the image of the dark tendrils swarming over them clouded her judgment … if you believe that trying to talk yourself into eating boogers can be defined as judgment.
She wrestled with memories and advice and inhibitions and science and fear and impulses for the better part of three hours, until her stomach growled and it was time to go down to the cafeteria and eat dinner.
Brenda is a rebel so she saved some room for dessert.