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The Nose Knows

by Stephen Lautens


XXX

July 7, 2000

My entire life I've heard stories about the Lautens nose.

The problem is, it's neither functional nor particularly decorative. No button noses in my family ­ unless you are referring to those big red buttons on the front of a clown suit.

Yes, we have a good grip on the ozone layer. Or so you would think.

For something so cavernous, you'd be surprised at how little you can get through it. There isn't a single Lautens who can draw a decent breath of air. You might as well try to suck pudding with a straw.

And it seems to attack both sexes with an equality that would make an affirmative action commissioner proud.

With the sensitivity that only brothers can bring out, my sister was generally referred to around the house as "big nose". Not that her nose was any bigger than anyone else's in the family. It's just that she was at that awkward age, unsure of herself and blossoming into womanhood, and my brother and I felt obliged to inflict the maximum amount of psychological damage allowed by a family member.

It is good for nose blowing, except it makes the neighbourhood kids think the Shriners Circus is in town. Because although you can't get anything into it Well, let's just say no tissue company is in danger of closing as long as there are Lautens around. You can tell when you're in a family member's house because you're never more than three paces from a box of tissues.

I was going through an old pair of my Dad's pants the other day and found the Lautens' hallmark - a wad of paper the size of a baseball.

And between allergies, obstructions and generally bad sinuses, we're a charming bunch to be around, day or night. We don't believe in sleeping with anyone before marriage. Not because we're Stockwell Day supporters, but because if anyone heard the 4 am nose blow, they'd never walk down the aisle with us.

Still, it pales beside the symphony of head-clearing honking of when we first get up.

I've had to come to terms with being a mouth breather. There are a couple of points on the good side. It keeps our sentences short, otherwise we'd be gasping for air. I also never seem to get a cold. I don't think a single microbe could wedge it's way past my constricted nasal passages.

I once had a doctor have a good look up there. He offered to use something that looked like a mellon-baller and hollow me out like a Halloween pumpkin, but couldn't guarantee that it would actually help.

Strangely enough, being nasally-impaired has given me a very selective sense of smell. Some perfumes cut through it like a knife. I can smell roses and bread baking from a mile (1.6 km), but a lot of unpleasant smells don't register with me at all. I suppose I'll be a natural at changing diapers.

I thought there might be hope for the next generation. Sadly, I've looked into the cribs of my tiny nieces and nephews and down at their tiny perfect noses. That is, until they try to take a deep breath and make a noise like a building being demolished.

My only hope is someday they'll discover a large bump in the human genome project that accounts for the Lautens nose.

XXX

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