*jabbing fists up into sky repeatedly in excitement* Yeehaw, kids, today we get to have some silly, gross fun. You may have noticed that I skipped over page 5 of Room to Write–I did so intentionally not because I discount the value in that exercise, but, rather, because it is one best undertaken on one’s own on an actual sheet of paper. You see, my dear friends, page 5 was about writing an entire page of “junk”–utter feces that you know is bad and write because you know it’s bad. In this way, you can reflect on how much knowledge you do indeed have on good writing, as you have to know what’s good in order to know what’s bad. Make sense? The cathartic moment of that drill is to then rip out that sheet of paper, crumple it, and toss it in the rubbish bin. Ah, we’ll all have to try that one…sounds orgasmic.
All right, so to finally get around to today’s exercise, then: SNOT. Yup. Write a full page about snot is what Goldberg profoundly asks us to do. When finished, reflect on how you felt before, during, and after writing. Consider if there’s anything worthy that could be included in one of your writing projects and/or brainstorm other possibly offensive topics that you could tackle. This is like sweet karma for my dual-mucus reference in our first freewriting activity 🙂
SNOT. Pick it, lick it, flick it at someone you hate, or store it under the table top. Yeah, you go ahead and pretend that your fingertip never happens to wander to your nostril, hesitating at the threshold in trepidation of the darkness within, then penetrates through only to delight in the tickling of the hairs lining the nasal cavity as the fingernail goes spelunking in search of gummy treasure. It whistles as it works, and, when it hits paydirt, shovels up a hearty scoop, greedily trying to carry back to the light more than it can muster. It attempts to go back and pick up what falls behind, only to lose another sizable clump of slippery sponge, and as it feverishly attempts to recover that latest bit, it sheds even more. Time out. The fingertip calls it. It exits momentarily to give its epidermis breath and reassess the situation. Cupped within the nail is a miniscule glob of goo with a nose hair projecting out of it–that’s worth something, at least. Wiping the semi-precious cargo onto the quilted square of two-ply toilet paper, the search party ventures back in, regretting that there’s not enough room in that cave to bring reinforcements. The fingernail drills deeper and deeper, its strategy being to plow the remnants of what it previously left behind further up the passage until they congeal into one super gob that it can hopefully hook itself under and up and scrape back along the upper lining in dragging it back to the open air. The risk it runs is severely high, however: it is possible, just possible, that the nail will in fact shove too far and, not having the grip it thought it did, end up tossing the booger into the narrower recesses of the sinus, where not finger nor fingernail can ever pass. Beads form upon the fingernail as it contemplates this scenario, shortly before it curses itself in having the thought, as now it needs to fear self-fulfilling prophecy, and as it thinks very hard with whatever equivalent of grey matter a fingernail might have to think with in trying not to think pessimistically, it comes to and…doh! The Super Gob is gone. Tucked into the nether reaches of the nasal passage as unwillingly anticipated. Defeated, and not a little sullen, the fingernail allows itself to be dragged out by one pissy finger for a royal berating back at camp. Meanwhile, the gob nests where it thinks it’s safe for the time being. It causes discomfort to the nose and giggles at its being the source of a high-pitched whistling every time its human host tries to breath. It sits there contentedly, feeling victorious and stronger than ever in its new super-fun super-size, until….being without a nose, it cannot distinguish in particular that the stinging it feels also smells of mint, eucalyptus, a dash of clove, perhaps? It only knows that it BURNS, and its super-fun super-size doesn’t seem so formidable any longer. Indeed, it’s losing its goo to a mucus-slide, as its sides go from gelatinous to slippery liquid oozing back down towards the light. It tingles and elongates and slides down through the shining, tickling hairs, amassing in a puddle inside the soft, powdery fibers of a tissue. Coughing and hacking as if it had a throat with mucus inside to cough and hack up, the liquefied snot reconvenes with the rest of its original self (spotting others it recognizes fallen into the same paper wad—“Grandma? Uncle? Is this Heaven?” it asks). Before yielding to a final defeat as it tears away at a piece of the white tissue to wave in surrender, its eyes, if it had eyes, fall on the key to its demise. Shaking a fist as though to curse the gods (and as though it had a fist), “Olbas!” it cries…”Olbas!”
Yowzah. Okay. Um, to reflect on that, then. Well, before writing, I was very excited about the topic, as it gave a chance to make up a lot of nonsense while still being able to be descriptive of something real that I have quite a bit of experience with (oh come on, like you don’t, too). After the series of reflections that the previous prompts asked for, this was the first delving into fiction.
While writing this, I found it coming to me almost unsettlingly easily, making me think along the entire way, “Wait, I think I know exactly what that would look/feel like,” and then question, “Why in the hell do I know that?!” As I saw the bodily components become “characters” in their own rights, the debate was then how realistic to maintain the “tale”…are the nail and the finger a single unit, or separate entities? If those or the nose and the snot themselves are, in fact, characters, then to what extent do I anthropomorhize them, for being body parts in and of themselves, can they have body parts of their own to enable them to see, feel, smell, etc? How to maintain consistency, and to what extent must consistency be maintained when it is approached as fictitious?
After writing, I felt rather relieved because it was a challenge trying to come up with different descriptors for something so disgusting, and I had been feeling embarrassed about how gross I was getting while at the same time reveling in the freedom of it. I felt satisfied with the closure I gave, as Olbas Oil has been a true beacon unto this sinus-sufferer this winter season. It felt like sweet redemption.
So, if I had to contemplate other social taboos that may be worth exploration in my writing, the first things that come to mind are: poo, sweat, dandruff, eye crust, ear wax, pubic hair, semen, yeast infections, menstruation, belly button lint, toe jam, scabs, drool, belching, farting, and diarrhea. Have at it, if you dare…