Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Art of Nose Picking

Art of Nose Picking
There is an art to picking. I first became aware of this in the 8th grade at North Heights Jr. High in Texarkana, Arkansas. My 8th grade geography teacher, Coach McKinney, had the art down perfectly.
I sat in the middle row directly across from his desk but a couple of seats back. This provided me some level of security when the threat level went from caution to Red Alert, attack imminent.
At first, I believed Coach didn’t realize that he was teaching more about nose picking and its various nuances, than geography. This could be why I mastered the first and not the second. Once we were all seated after the bell rang, Coach would open up his geography book and look at us with a blank stare as though he wanted to say something. We looked back with blank stares as though we wanted to hear something. Coach, was the assistant football coach and head basketball coach because he was taller than the football coach. It all makes sense. I had to be careful though because I played sports and whatever I did or not do in class could and would be used against me later on in the Coach’s courtroom of Law. This was the basis of today’s Miranda warnings.
Once everyone got past the stare stage, class would begin. Coach would ask things like” can anyone tell me where I put my paddle board?” I usually raised my hand and would say something like” Coach it’s still stuck to Billy’s Butt.” That much I knew about geography, location is everything.
Then Coach would lean way back in his chair, with outstretched arms and clasp his hands behind his neck. I had seen this move before. I’m sure most of my classmates thought he was just bored and disinterested in being a teacher and took a casual laid back approach. Not me. This was his warm up signal usually accompanied by his head twisting side to side getting out the kinks. My early warning booger picking deflection system sent out an alert that attack was imminent.
Coach then would lean forward and gaze around the room as through it was an important thing to do and then ask Patsy to read page 1, paragraph 1 in our text book. Although we were almost to semester break, we were slow to learn. Once Patsy started reading, I fell asleep, but one eye cocked on Coach.
On cue, Coach went into the retrieve and load position. He was very particular about retrieval. Digging around is an art itself. Carefully selecting the most robust booger with proper form and texture was paramount to it hitting its target.
Once he had made his selection, next came the exam and roll technique. Coach would roll his choice selection between his thumb and forefinger, gently massaging it into a solid mass never taking his eye off of it. By now, the whole class has caught on and is on the edge of their seats and were preparing for the duck and cover. Everyone is looking around and a slight hum begins to ensue as we eagerly await the shot heard around the world.
Coach, was never one to hurry the process, including teaching geography. Once he got just the right firmness and texture, he would then raise it slowly to his mouth and gently spit ever so gently on his creation. One last tweak of his ammunition required taking it to his left ear after the spit on. Leaning his head to one side and rolling it around while listening intently to its peculiar resonance, he was satisfied that engagement was necessary.
Then came the lock and load. The entire class has now hunkered down into a full safety position leaning forward; face down on desk, geography book on heads, ready for a full scale launch. Coach didn’t notice that small fact as his mind was clearly fixated on completing his mission of not teaching geography, but warfare.
Suddenly and in one smooth motion his hand comes down from his ear, with forefinger cocked back, and ammo loaded on the end of his thumb. This was it, the moment of attack. All defensive positions were secured. I lay with my head firmly imbedded in my desk praying that somehow it would misfire, or fall harmlessly to the ground.
But the flick was on, confirmed by a whizzing that undeniably was the sound of artillery rounds being fired. At this point I was happy that Coach had not mastered an automatic flinger that would reload and bombard us unmercifully.
Then we heard a thud and a bang of broken glass. We slowly rose up, everyone checking for signs of a direct hit on their person. All hands were on deck.
We looked toward Coach who was grinning ear to ear as one who was content with his assignment of the day. He had clearly hit his intended target, a picture of Mr. Havens our principal, hanging on the back wall, now lying scattered on the classroom floor.
I think Coach was trying to teach us in his own subtle way, you never know what life’s going to sling at you, so be prepared, sometimes it can be a booger!

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