Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Booger rules

I had the top bunk my freshman year of college which was fabulous but made some things difficult. Namely- getting into and out of bed. I had to climb on my desk, get a tight grip on the headboard, take a deep breathe, and swing my leg up while hoisting my whole body up and over. It was a process. I tell you this so you won't judge me as harshly when you read this next part.

So there we were, a few weeks into school. I had bonded with my roommates and the girls in my hall- so much so that about 5 of them joined me on my bed to watch a movie. Then my roommate Jenny looked up.

"Oh my gosh, Katie. Are those boogers on the ceiling?"

There was no way out. I could think of no lie.

So I blushed, I laughed, and then I came clean.

"Yes. Yes they are. But in my defense, it's too much of a hassle to climb down and get a tissue late at night and I can't fall asleep with boogers in my nose."

I learned the hard way that when you wipe your boogers anywhere other than a tissue, you must be more strategic than using the ceiling.

Some recent booger encounters have inspired me to write this public service announcement for all booger pickers in the world. (Which I'm pretty sure is everyone)

Booger Rules

# 1- If a tissue is available use it. Here's the thing: I understand that sometimes it's more satisfying to dislodge a crusty one with your nail than to blow it out. I feel ya. Sometimes I don't cut my nails for this very purpose. However, when looking to dispose of said crusty one, always use a tissue if it's available. This will eliminate much potential awkwardness involved in "booger disposal."

Also, putting a tissue over your finger and then still going in for the pick may be more sanitary and not seem as gross, but really, it looks just as bad as a regular pick. Plus, you miss out on the satisfaction of making direct contact with your nail. My mom used to try to convince me to pick this way but I'm not convinced. Everyone still knows you're picking your nose.

If you are in a situation where nose picking is highly frowned upon (see rule # 11), but you have a tissue. You can try to dislodge the booger with a good ol fashioned snot-rocket where you plug one nostril and blow hard out the other. But if that doesn't work, then picking with a tissue over your finger is too conspicuous and not really an option. Just let it be.

# 2- When no tissue is available, roll and flick to dispose of the booger. This dilemma is often faced when in an automobile. I prefer to roll down the window and flick my biodegradable booger out into the world but I was recently informed that this is not proper booger disposal protocol. According to my friend Amy, these "booger balls" as she calls them, will disappear inside the car and never be seen again. My rolling down the window to flick out a booger is apparently way too obvious- everyone on the highway knows what I'm doing when I roll down the window for a second and flick something unseen out.

However, I still think I'm okay with this. And when it's just me and my car and the freeway, I still roll the booger, roll down the window and flick. Who cares if these strangers know what I'm doing? But when there are passengers in my car or I'm in another car, I resort to Amy's rule and covertly roll my booger ball between my fingers and flick it onto the car floor, hopefully never to be seen again.

# 3 Be careful where you flick your booger ball. Although Amy assured me these booger balls completely disappear in cars, it must be noted that they DO NOT disappear everywhere. Case in point: Sophomore year the roles were reversed and Jenny was stuck with her boogers on the top bunk. I was on the bottom bunk and kept a tub of my sweatshirts on the ground beside my bed. Little did I know, for MONTHS Jenny and Lesley (my other roommate with a top bunk) were flicking their booger balls onto my sweatshirts! It obviously took me awhile to notice because Amy is right, those booger balls are hard to see. But there came a day when I did notice one chilling on my favorite sweatshirt.

A lot of strange things could have been heard from our dorm room that year. But one of the oddest was probably me yelling, "Jenny! Have you been flicking your boogers on my sweatshirts?!?"

# 4 If you can't roll and flick, be careful where you wipe. I understand that there are times when the booger consistency makes it difficult to roll and flick and create a flickable booger ball. If it's not crusty, but rather of the "gooey" variety, you might be rolling for a long time and still have that sticky booger stuck to your finger when you try to flick it. Where you choose to wipe this mess is crucial. We've seen that dorm room ceilings can lead to awkward moments. Here are some other areas you may want avoid:

a) The headboard of your bed. This is a natural selection. You don't want to get out of bed to get a tissue so you just reach your arm behind the bed rest and ta-da, problem solved. Here's the issue: that bed will not stay there forever. This was my designated "wiping area" for years in high school and I was a tiny bit appalled when my dad was helping me rearrange the furniture and scolded me for all the boogers now permanently stuck to the headboard. These suckers do not come off easily. I've since learned my lesson and keep a box of tissues on the nightstand.

b) Inside a book. Also a natural selection. You're lost in a world of hobbits or vampires or theological arguments and don't want to pause to go dispose of your gooey booger that you didn't even realize you were picking since you were so lost in the book. Don't be embarrassed, I've been in this situation many a times. In fact, I would guess that no less than half of my books have a booger lodged somewhere in the pages. The better the book, the less I want to put it down, and thus, the more boogers you'll probably find.

However, a problem arises if you are borrowing a book or if you plan to pass it on. I love sharing books and I'm not naive enough to think people won't notice a smeared green booger in the pages. Thus, the page you choose to wipe on is crucial. I typically go for one of those in the very beginning where there are random blank pages or a foreword that no one reads. I'm considering writing the publishing companies and suggesting they start including a "booger page" in the back for this very purpose.

c) Under a desk. As a teacher, I catch many kids with their fingers up their noses...and I teach high school. I see them looking around afterwards and I'm always very tempted to say to them, "Roll and flick or get a tissue. Those are your only two options." It is just plain mean and inconsiderate to wipe a booger in a spot where someone might not only discover it, but accidentally touch it.

I was eleven. We were in Mrs. Brown's 6th grade classroom. My best friend Megan and I returned to the our desks after returning from the accelerated reading class. Other kids had been in our desks. Ahmed had been in Megan's. I will never forget this moment. It was one of my favorite moments of life thus far.

Megan brushed her hands under her desk and looked up with an expression of complete shock and horror. The concerned friend that I am, I rushed to her side, "What? What's wrong?"

Then she held up her hand to reveal a GIANT, BLOODY BOOGER now stuck to her hand. I fell over laughing. Megan ran to get a tissue, cursing Ahmed all the way. It was perhaps the highlight of my elementary school years.

The lesson here is clear: yes, it will be hilarious when someone accidentally wipes your nasty, gooey mess on themselves, and it will be be a memorable moment for their friends, but YOU do not want to be remembered for this. You do not want people saying 18 years later, "Remember when you wiped Ahmed's bloody booger on yourself?"

Plus, it's just plain gross.

d) On your skin. I've never considered this until recently. I was talking about boogers with a student because that is part of the education process, and she told me that every morning she wipes a booger on her thigh. Apparently, that dries the sucker right up and then makes for very easy flickin. However, she warned that sometimes she forgets and looks down at her leg in first period only to notice said booger still chillin on her thigh. So, should you choose this method, you cannot forget to flick it before you go out in public.

# 5 Use your pointer finger to do the picking. I've found you will have best control and most efficient picking when using the index finger. Yes, the middle finger is longer but you risk looking like you're flipping someone off and drawing unwanted attention to yourself during this private moment. I've seen people use their pinky finger and frankly, I just don't get it. If you are a pinky user, please, tell me what it is that has motivated your choice. Is it simply because the pinky is skinnier? Do you have ultra thin nostrils that makes this a necessity? Inquiring minds want to know. You should know that you look plain ridiculous.

Also, please oh please, NEVER use the thumb. I know your type. You think you can casually wipe at your nose and dislodge a booger near the ridge of your nostril with your thumb and no one will notice. You are "above" nose-picking in public. Reality check: you're still picking your nose. Only now it's taking you much longer because the thumb isn't as efficient as the index finger.

Just today I saw a student using both his thumb AND index finger, getting both nostrils at once. Although I applaud his attempt to multi-task, this just looked bizarre. Please don't ever do this.

# 6 When in public, be quick about it. No lingering allowed. Get in and get out. If you can turn your back to your group, go ahead but make it quick. We know what you're doing.

# 7 Never eat them. Never. My brothers will advise you otherwise. They are both 26 and swear that eating their boogers all these years has boosted their immune system and kept them healthy. It's a lie. Sure, it's a convenient way to dispose of the booger- you don't have to worry about inappropriate wipe zones or rolling and flicking techniques. However, it's just plain gross. True, I love catching a stranger eating his own booger in traffic but please don't let that be you.

# 8 Never spit them at others. Perhaps this thought is utterly foreign to you. Unfortunately, it is not to me. Not only do my brothers eat their boogers, they occasionally spit them at others. Yes, to this day. I'm 28 and still find myself saying, "Da-ad! Trent and Travis are spitting boogers at me. Make 'em stop!" This is just plain wrong.

# 9 Only chase your family members with them. My earliest memory in life was asking Jesus into my heart. The next: my sister chasing me around the house with boogers on several of her fingers. I can still picture her blue nightgown and hear myself screaming, "Stop it, Heidi!!! Mo-om, Heidi's chasing me with her boogers!" Yes, I was a bit of a tattle tale. She later chased me with her warts. What are big sisters for if not to wipe their boogers and warts on their siblings? This type of torment is only okay within the family. Don't chase your friends with boogers. That's just weird.

# 10 If you're trying to be sneaky about your picking, newsflash: you're not fooling anyone. If you are in public and try to sneak in a quick pick and immediately follow this maneuver with a "nose scratch," we're on to you. Don't feel bad. I catch myself doing this at times too. It just feels natural. But you need to know that fellow nose-pickers know exactly what you're doing.

Also, let me clarify that I'm not proposing we begin openly picking our noses in front of each other. I admit that dislodging and disposing of boogers is a pretty gross/intimate process which only should be shared within the family. If you're a friend, no, I don't care to see how giant your booger is...even if it's shaped like the state of Florida. Outside of the family, we should still at least try to be somewhat secretive about our booger-picking. I mean, geesh, we need to have some manners.

# 11 There are certain situations in which it is NEVER okay to pick your nose. Job interview? You let that cliff hanger hang- even if they are looking down at your resume and you think you can get it with a quick swipe. The risks are too high of getting caught. First date? Nose-picking is for sure is a deal-breaker. Basically the first time you meet ANYONE you should probably keep your fingers away from your nostrils.

If you disagree with these eleven rules or have your own separate rules or amendments to add, please, by all means, do share.


  1. I've been reading (and loving) your blog for awhile now, and this made me laugh so very hard. 7&8 are disgusting.

    I'm an elementary substitute teacher and the amount of times I encounter nose picking in a day is staggering. Thanks for your informative perspective.

    Brilliantly funny.

  2. Thanks Mandie. My brothers are pretty disgusting. Do you ever catch your students eating their "treasures?" Do you tell them to stop? I feel like high schoolers know that they are being disgusting but little kids don't yet.

    Speaking of, one of my high schoolers read this and asked, "Do you really see when we pick our noses?" She then showed me her technique of resting her face on both of her hands and then sneaking her pinky behind her hands and up her nostril. I must admit, it worked- I couldn't tell she was picking her nose. So I guess the pinky CAN be effective.

  3. Katie, I am an avid nose picker. Thank you so much for this post. I L. O. V. E. it. You are seriously one of the funniest writers I have read in a while!

    My students love picking their nose and whenever I see it, I instantly reply: tissue and sanitizer!

    (Yet I was caught the other day: http://theadventuresofgabriella.blogspot.com/2011/05/ew.html )