I’ve already spent way too much time today thinking about digital nasopharyngial decompaction.

Yes, nose picking.

First, I saw this article on Annanova.

I sent mail to a few friends about it. replied with a link to some Ani lyrics where she proudly admits to nose picking.

While I was reading the lyrics, I was reminded of a former acquaintance of mine, Petty Officer Humphry. Humphry was a classmate in Electronics Technician Class ‘A’ school. Although I served with PO Humphry for eight or nine months and socialized with him frequently, I never did learn his first name. That’s sort of the nature of the armed forces, I guess; last names only.

I met a host of interesting people in the Navy. I knew a guy who could vomit on demand (although, in truth, it took him about a minute to actually make it happen). I knew a guy who could inhale one end of his dog-tag chain through his nostril and pull it out through his mouth and clip it back together, leaving him with a chain loop through his face (I have a photograph of this someplace). I knew a guy who could accurately predict the number of ounces of urine he needed to expel (and claimed he could predict the weight of his next bowel movement… The so-called ‘one pound constitutional’… Though I never actually saw him perform that particular skill).

Humphry did not have a sideshow talent like these, but was uniquely revolting in his own way. Humphry was in touch with bodily functions.

Among other things, Humphry was an unabashed nose picker. He would eat the products from time to time as he swore they were healthy and good for you (clearly he was ahead of his time in this respect). He didn’t always eat them, though; he said that a little went a long way. When he did not ingest them, he would wipe them off on his pants in his crotch, where (he claimed) they would dry out and drop off. This saved him from having to carry a hankie or kleenex.

Humphry would periodically lecture us on the merits of nose picking. He would also help us with our hygiene in various other ways.

The last time I saw PO Humphry was in our company administrative office building at Naval Training Center Great Lakes. We were both transferring out to different commands and were individually completing the laborious signing-out process consisting of gathering about fifteen signatures from far-flung locations across base. This process had to be performed in dress uniform as many of the locations contained officers who might be offended by the sight of a sailor in dungarees (I vacuumed the driveways of some of these fastidious officers on more than one occasion).

I ran into Humphry, as I said, at the admin office… I was going out as he was coming in. We chatted for a minute and made the typical trite remarks that one sailor would make to another sailor as their life-paths diverged, realizing that this was the last time that friends would ever see each other.

At the end of our conversation as I prepared to take my leave, Humphry pointed out that I had a massive zit on my chin and could he please pick it? I said yes, of course. He did so, taking no more than a second; Humphry was a real pro at this. He showed me the big wad of pus on his finger, then started to wipe it on my uniform. He realized that I had my dress blues on, so he stopped and started to wipe it on his own uniform. Then he realized that he had on his dress blues, as well.

I left. My last sight of PO Humphry was of him standing in the foyer of the admin office with my pus on his finger, wondering what to do with it.

I hope Humphry’s doing well. At least I can be assured that his immune system is strong.

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