“SNOT”

Kipling

(This was a writing exercise to fill one page based on a four-letter word)

Just where in the world do we come up with words like this? Have you noticed that for every secretion from every orifice of the human body we have devised some kind of four-letter word? I don’t need to go down the list since you know these words as well as I do. Today we’re just going to concentrate on SNOT.

I can almost hear the professor addressing his medical students at the beginning of class. “Today students we will be discussing the sinuses and nasal passages with emphasis on the various forms of mucus they produce when inflamed.”

All the while he and many students are saying to themselves, “Oh yeah, we’re gonna be talkin’ snot.”

In the course of many arguments in films and probably real life as well, I have often heard the threat posed of knocking the fecal matter out of someone. Wouldn’t it be far easier to assume that we would be more likely to knock the snot out of some one? A sharp blow to the head is far more likely to dislodge a good amount of snot than it is to make one lose bowel control. Repeated blows to the head and face could produce large volumes of said mucus resulting in the familiar phrases, “utter snot”, “unholy snot,” and of course, “the ever lovin’ snot.” Although I can’t think of a circumstance where I would refer to snot as “ever-lovin.” It’s just not a picture I can summon up in my mind.

We generally regard our own snot or someone else’s as gross and disgusting. But isn’t it funny the way humans will regard animal snot in a very different fashion. The most prominent that I can think of is cow snot. My wife is the consummate shutterbug. Technically an amateur photographer but that’s only because no one is paying her for her photos. She loves to take pictures of cows for reasons I still do not understand. Here is an animal that eats grass, partially digests it and then decides that it needs further chewing before fully putting it onward to the intestinal tract. Have you ever taken notice of how far a cows tongue comes out of his mouth? This fleshy mop extends all the way over his nostrils! Now, is he savoring his cow snot with his cud like a good white wine sauce, or is this the means by which he nauseates himself to return his cud from the first stomach chamber? Only the zoological community knows for sure. For me, it’s far too much information.

The other most prominent example of animal snot is much closer to home. It is in fact IN my home. This would be the common house kitty-cat. This tender little furball roams about the place rubbing his nose and tail on everything in sight. We won’t get into the whole tail business as that is a completely separate subject altogether. Times without number I have witnessed (and been the victim of) the cat nuzzling your hands or your face or wherever. We generally respond with, “Oh, isn’t that sweet! He’s marking you as his own. Awwwww! Ain’t he cute?!” When in reality the animal has just wiped his nose on you. Your gentle, tiny doses of cat snot.

Can you imagine if humans had adopted such behavior? What would be your first response if your spouse leaned over tonight and affectionately wiped his/her nose across you cheek? The result would probably be found in the first paragraph of this page. By the same token, try the thought of going in and tucking in your little ones for bed. You say goodnight and rise to leave the room when the child cries out “Mommy/Daddy! You forgot to give me my snot wiping goodnight!”

If your child came in from a long day at school and took your hand while you stood at the kitchen counter preparing dinner and proceeded to leave a long wet streak on your arm, would your reaction be;

a) “Yes sweetie, I love you too.”

b) “Its so nice when she shows genuine affection like that.”

c) “COME BACK HERE SO I CAN KNOCK THE EVER-LOVIN’ SNOT OUTTA YOU!”

Let the imagination stretch MUCH farther and apply this theory to the whole dating process. How many times have you seen a young girl who was kissed by the boy of her dreams and then refused to wash her cheek for days or even weeks? So now instead of a lip print we have streak across that same cheek. Truly a form of male marking. “Don’t touch that woman! SHE’S MINE! ARE YOU BLIND?! LOOK AT HER CHEEK!” Not to mention the alternative places where marking affectionately could also occur.

I also find it conversely strange that most dog owners let their pets lick them abundantly and call it “kissing”. While if the same dog happens to snoot a little dog snot on them in the process they are immediately repulsed. The poor “man’s best friend” can’t get an even break. The housecat has to turn all the way around before bringing down the wrath of the owner while the lowly dog must only go an inch or so north of his upper lip. Maybe this is the origin of the phrase, “A dogs life.” When you get put out to the doghouse over just a little snot.

T. August Green

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