Of nasal hair and the written word

vignette hagrid

I’ve had this nose-hair trimmer for ages. It sits in the bathroom cabinet with double-A battery locked and loaded, waiting for time and follicular growth to drive me to pick it up again. When I do, I flare my nostrils, flip the switch, insert deeply, rotate gently, remove, and blow my nose. Next up are the ears, which I rarely ever fully excavate because a part of me is convinced I’ll hear less hideous things if I leave a tuft-buffer between my eardrums and the world.

You could say it’s a sign of age, but I’m not convinced I’m sprouting hair in odd places because the half-century mark is bounding at me like a slobbery, engorged mastiff. In truth, I’ve had to the need to use the trimmer—or variants of its ilk in different makes and models—since my late twenties, when a girl I did a lot to try to impress suggested I was starting to resemble a koala bear. Like a dutiful automaton, I took her cue and went shopping. She never mentioned it again, but then I didn’t see her for long. Maybe she decided she liked me better untamed.

The problem with trimming your ear and nose hair is that it only grows back thicker and faster. And once you take the first step toward keeping those follicles in line, it becomes a lifelong commitment. Like a religion that doesn’t make you feel like a sinner for wanting to look better. These days, I can’t go three days without looking like I’ve got antennae growing out the sides of my head, or like a guy who just got done snorting pencil shavings. In such moments, I know it’s time to hack back the chaff. It’s a first-world problem, to be sure, and I’ll take it any day over starvation or having to live without cable TV.

But today, something dawned on me. What if everything works in the same way? What if feeding something with attention only makes it come back thicker and stronger? What if, for example, I was to come here every day and snip and trim my vocabularic meanderings like a gardener willing away the weeds with each deliberate snap of his pruning shears? Would that make them grow back faster? Would it fill my head with words I’d have no choice but to vomit onto the virtual page? Would it boost my sesquipedalian game?

Oh, wow, I think it’s working.

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