A few days ago I was reminded of something I did when I was a child. Something that I regret which, to this day, still evokes feelings of numbing trepidation.
I stuck a marble up my nose, my right nostril to be exact. I don’t know why I did it, but then again who knows why children do what they do? From writing on walls to jumping on tables, everything seems like a good idea until after you’ve done it.
I don’t know what went through my mind prior to putting the marble up my nostril, but I remember looking in the mirror, amused at how ridiculous I looked. Amusement soon turned to fear when I realised that it was stuck. I tried pushing down on my nostril to force it out, but that didn’t work. My mom was downstairs in the kitchen and I knew that if she saw me she’d be angry, because, seriously, why was a marble there in the first place?
So I panicked, breathing erratically which only made things worse. I kept thinking, “What if I inhale the marble? What if it gets stuck forever? What if I’ve stretched out my nostril and it won’t go back to its normal size?”
I blew through my right nostril as hard as I could and kept pushing down on my nose to force it out. I can’t explain the relief I felt when it finally came out. I decided then and there that it was the first and last time I ever put a marble, or anything else, in my nose.
I wish I could say that that was the last strange thing to find itself lodged up there but, sadly, it isn’t. When I lived in Cape Town I’d walk home from school, and it was on one of those walks that an insect flew into my nose. You know when your parents tell you not to pick your nose because you’ll pick your brain? Well, it felt as though the insect was in my brain, that’s how far up it went.
I tried not to panic, but I remembered the marble and felt the same fear, except this time I thought, “What if the bug lays eggs?” And really, that’s all I thought of because I’d heard horror stories of bugs laying eggs in peoples’ eyes and other orifices and, c’mon, who wouldn’t be freaked out by that?
I walked home as fast as I could, threw my bag onto the sofa and ran to the bathroom to rinse my nose with water. The bug didn’t come out. I started blowing my nose to the point where I felt as though I’d blow my nose right off. I kept doing that until pieces of the insect came out. Yes, pieces. Black, tiny insect body parts. I’d say I was disgusted, but I wasn’t. I was just relieved that my nose wouldn’t be some kind of birthing canal for baby bugs.
The best advice I could ever give anyone is: Never, ever ever put anything up your nose. No matter how appealing it may seem or how experimental you’re feeling.
When I eventually told my family about what I did, they chalked it up to, “Like mother like daughter”; my uncle told me that when my mom was a child she stuck a pea in her nose to avoid eating it.
All I can hope for is that my future daughter likes peas and never plays with marbles. But just to be on the safe side I’ll have to make sure that no small round object is within her reach, because that’s a family tradition we can go without.