Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Tito, Hand Me a Tissue"

Yesterday I posted a picture of my Raven’s Fan Therapy Station, which featured a giant garbage bag filled with tissues.  I captioned it, “Don’t ask how I came to have a garbage bag full of tissues.”

Naturally, that’s what I was asked, and by my Mom, no less.  I answered the question in comments, but thought I’d share the answer here because it reminded me of some other repressed childhood trauma.

In September, our company had a team building “Minute to Win It” competition for the execs, where they competed in a series of simple, yet challenging events.  One of the simpler ones was a race to see who would be the first to pull all the tissues out of a box, using only one hand.  Obviously, that left a huge pile of tissues lying around.

My department, who also set up the event, is instrumental in driving the company’s “Green” efforts. So I mentioned to one of our crew, “I hope you’re not planning on tossing all those perfectly good tissues…”  Next day, he showed up at my cube with a trash bag filled with tissues.  I’ve been taking out a dozen or so at a time and putting them into my tissue box on my desk.  I hate to waste anything… tissues, food, or opportunities to needle Ratbird fans.

So when the Steelers won on Saturday, it occurred to me that it would make a nice visual for my Ravens Fan Therapy Station.

In discussing this with Mom (via email) she said, “I have this thing about tissues because my Mom NEVER allowed them. (She would have recycled toilet paper if she could).  Now, I feel compelled to use every last one in a hotel room or anywhere they're available.  Forbidden fruit.  How weird is that?

I think that’s very weird, but it explains a lot.  In fact, I said, it explains a lot about Exhibit 912 of Examples of How I Was Abused as a Child.  (Among them: the infamous Pop Tart and sugared cereal ban.)

My family never had tissues, ever.  I had to carry a hanky as a boy, and so did everyone in my extended family.  Sure, it’s cost effective, but it was also effective in making sure I was teased and looked upon with scorn by every girl that saw me during Fall ragweed season, winter cold season, spring pollen season and summer “everything” season.

Septembers were the worst.  You’re in your new class and kids are sizing each other up, especially me because for all the moving around we did, I always seemed to be the new kid.  It's pretty hard to appear cool when you have to honk your nose every other minute.  By lunch time, my hanky would be soaking wet to the point that it created wet spots on the outside of my pants pocket.

You know what the allergy snots are like… you just blow your nose and blow your nose and it’s just like a faucet.  There’s no “substance,” like when you have a cold, and there is absolutely no end to it.  It’s impossible to just blow it all out.

They used to give me “Allerest” allergy medicine sometimes, but that really didn’t do much for me.  I’m sure they called it “Allerest” because even when I took it, alla’rest of the kids in class were pretty much avoiding me. 

By the time I was in junior high, I was taking Contac cold medicine, which was pretty strong.  Didn’t phase me though… sometimes I’d even have to take a second one when the first one didn’t work.  My brother, who had the same problems I did, couldn’t even take them at all.  One Contac would wipe him right out. 

So even at the point that I moved out of the house, I always carried a hanky.  I remember when I was living in Cleveland, in my mid-20s, I got into a big row with my girlfriend because when she was doing the laundry, she threw my hanky in the trash rather than put it in the washer.  She said the thought of it made her gag.

We had quite a tussle about that… I was a broke record store manager living in Cleveland; I didn’t have the cash to keep throwing at new hankies.  Literally, hankies were all I knew.  I had absolutely no other frame of reference regarding how to handle frequent nose-blowing.  Not that my symptoms were really that bad.  I found that once I moved from rural NW Ohio to the more industrial environment of Cleveland, my allergy symptoms vanished for long stretches.  Maybe smog and pollution kills pollen, I don’t know.

Later, after we broke up, (not over hankies, but God, my life with her was an epic story… for another day), and I’d moved to upstate NY, her reaction stuck in my mind, so I bought my first box of tissues.  Leaving the poor air quality of Cleveland for the clean Adirondack air brought my allergies right back.  It didn’t take much longer before tissues were a new way of life.
“You can have my box of Kleenex when you pry it from my cold, snotty, germ-covered hand.”

Like right now, I have 5 open boxes of tissues:

Dining room table (where I eat in the morning and also w/in reach of my PC.  Also, Pinky uses them for napkins, which drives me nuts.  The napkins are right there too, but she says it’s easier to pull out the tissues.)
By the couch for watching TV
By the bed, for the night-time sniffles
In my bathroom.  (These are the low-grade store brand ones that I use mostly for lining the sink when I trim my beard.)
On my desk at work (which is now fed by the Giant Garbage Bag’O Tissues.)

Basically, where ever I’m going to linger, I have a box of tissues near by.  Who wants to tear across a room to try to grab a tissue while you’re holding in a sneeze?  You can end up carpet bombing the whole place.

It’s funny though; I still carry a hanky every day, to take care of the occasional sniffle on the train, especially when it’s cold.  But more often, I use it to mop the sweat off my forehead (where there’s a LOT of room for sweat to accumulate) so I don’t stain my ball caps.

But best of all, they finally invented an allergy medicine that works for me, Zyrtec.  The funny thing is that a doctor prescribed it for me about 10 years ago it to control a chronic hive condition (yet another story).  Once I started taking them for the hives, I immediately discovered that my allergy symptoms had dried right up!  What a nice side effect, for a change.  It’s like finding out Viagra also makes you able to fly.

Lastly, just in case you were born after the mid 80’s (coughCassiecough) and you’re puzzled about this post’s title, it comes from Eddie Murphy’s stand-up comedy movie “Delirious.”  I was either going to call it that, or “Hanks for the Memories.” 

You’re welcome.


injaynesworld said...

First of all, I'm like you. Cannot stand to waste anything. I can make a napkin last a whole week. Funny, funny piece, dude.

"It's like finding out Viagra also make you able to fly."

BAHAHAHAHA! So glad I stopped by. Hanks for the laughs. ;)

bluzdude said...

I consider not wasting a virtue. Anyone that's had to live when the money is tight knows that's a valuable value to have.

Glad you liked. After this weekend, I knew I had to do something that was far away from football.

tattytiara said...

My dog's favorite treat is Kleenex. It's a comfort thing, stemming from when he used to steal it out of my mom's sleeve as a puppy. To him, you would be a god.

bluzdude said...

"God of the Puppies." I like it.

Could I return the favor by commanding my subjects not to piddle on the floor?

Cassie said...

December of 84 would make me mid '80s, huh?

Don't worry. Now kids going to college were born in the mid '90s. That's sad.

Jessica R. said...

Cassie, I was October of 84, not far off.

Bluz, my husband carried a hanky when I first met him and it was the first time I'd even seen someone use one. It seems like they are just gross germ carriers, but I respected him and just washed them. Now, like you, he has seen the way of the kleenex, and we too have boxes stationed all over our house and in our vehicles.

Mrs. Bachelor Girl said...

Anyone who disses hankies is bad news, Bluz.

I carry a hankie every day! I have a couple boxes of Kleenex in my house, but they're mostly for guests to use. I'm no tree hugger, but the thought of throwing something away every time I sneeze into it just doesn't seem right.

Mary Ann said...

O GREAT PUPPY GOD Now that suggests some interesting rituals: the Great Puppy Dog Do; Puppy PSALMS; the Puppy Easter Parade (complete with Kleenes Bonnets). Somehow puppies and tissues belong together as do puppies and Pop Tarts.
But most important is your willingness to share embarassing moments of youthful discomfort and peer ridicule. I can sympathize, remembering awful Septembers, sneezing, soggy hankie in one hand, pencil in the other, head bent over my desk so other kids didn't see me dripping and wiping.
How liberating to have wall to wall Kleenex. I just pretend tissues in my house are for guests but I sneak them out of the guest bathroom, in the dark so I'm not really using tissues.
"Hanks for the memories" is is an appropriate stroke of genius. All puppies are pleased.

Judie said...

Rod always carries a hanky. Every man should carry one in case of emergencies. He doesn't have to USE it, but he should still carry one.
Rod's mum was a firm believer in Kleenex. She was also a SAVER of Kleenex. She took one or two to bed with her every night, and of course in the morning she would forget about those and grab a few more. When changing her bed linens it was nothing to find as many as 20 Kleenex in amongst the sheets. She always carried some in her purse. Since she couldn't bear to throw anything out, her purse could at times be stuffed with Kleenex. Also dead AAA batteries.

My mother never bought bandaids. If we cut ourselves, it was just too bad. I have so many boxes of bandaids in my bathroom closet that if I never bought another box, those that I have would outlive us. I do throw the used ones out, though.

bluzdude said...

I always get depressed when I read those email things that go around, about the incoming freshman classes and how they’ve never heard of the key touchstones of my own past. It doesn’t help me that every time we talk, it’s like getting that email again. Luckily, you’re so much fun, I forget to be depressed!

So did you get the reference the first time?

None of us wanted to carry those things around… it was just all we knew.

Geez, all you snot-nosed kids… (with tissues or otherwise…) I didn’t realize I should have been checking IDs at the door.

Mrs. Bachelor Girl,
I never said I didn’t get full use out of the tissue. If it’s not a real “productive” sneeze something, I’ll hold onto it for continued use. But when I used to get the bad allergies, the wet hanky was a drag. And it would irritate the hell out of my little nose, too.

But thank you for defending the hanky-wielders. How I could have appreciated more like you in 2nd grade…

Mary Ann,
Suffering makes all the best stories! That’s what my blog is all about… telling the painful tales of my past and by doing so, pimp-slapping the demons therein back into submission. I wonder how they’d like being snapped with a wet hanky… I bet you could see a rainbow, through the resulting mist.

A clean hanky is a good, all-purpose tool. It can bandage a cut, mop your brow, clean off a chair, soak up a spill, clean a stain, and still be there to wipe your nose. That’s why I still carry one.

Band-Aids are very important to a child because it’s an instant visual reminder to all in range that you have been damaged and possibly traumatized, and are therefore deserving of sympathy. Or candy. Or a Pop Tart.

My sister used to insist on having Band-Aids put on bruises.

Cassie said...

The reference of hand me a tissue? I didn't :( But I have seen a lot of old stand ups from the greats that were doing it before I was born if that's any consolation.

My husband carries around a bandanna that he uses as his hankie. I make him wash it.

bluzdude said...

Eddie Murphy was doing a bit on singers (which was insanely funny) and when he got to Michael Jackson, he began talking about how MJ would cry on a girl to get her to like him. So he began impersonating MJ singing the ballad, "She's Out of My Life," (from 'Off the Wall'). At the end he went, (sounding exactly like Michael), "Tito, get me a tissue... Jermaine, stop teasing..."

I know... way too far to go, just to get a stupid blog title. But if you ever have a chance, rent "Eddie Murphy - Delirious." It's pee your pants funny. Very Verry R-rated though.

There are bits of it all over YouTube. You can start right here:

After that, there are a number of bits from the same show in the sidebar. The James Brown bit is one of my all time favorites.

CB said...

You are such a nut Bluz!!!!

I think I should like to try to pry the Kleenex from your cold dead fingers!!!

bluzdude said...

Why, CB, is the bra-stuffing falling out?

Ba-dump bump!

sherry stanfa-stanley said...

Allergies? You're talking to the queen. Am allergic to a wide array of weeds, trees, grasses, mold, dust, dogs and cats (the last two being a joyous later-in-life development, after I'd already adopted a menagerie). My treatment is immunotherapy--shots in both arms every other week--as well as daily doses of Allegra and nosespray. Quite frankly, I'd do almost anything to avoid the horror of the hankie.

C.C. said...

I have tissues EVERYWHERE. Kitchen, living room, bedroom, work desk, home desk and in my car...at all times. No one else has tissues in their cars, which drives me banana cakes. God bless Costco.

bluzdude said...

When I was a kid, I used to have to get the shots every Sunday. My dad would do it, right after church, but before football. Eventually, they just stopped and there was no appreciable difference. I can’t say I disagreed with the decision.

Now, when we get together on Sundays, we utilize a different kind of pre-game shot.

(Have you tried Zyrtec? It’s over-the-counter now… I’m allergic to most of those same things…)

I may not have tissues in my car, but I do collect extra Wendy’s napkins in the door pocket. Same principle.

Judie said...

Re: bandaids--none of which my mother would give.
Hold still, Bluz! I need to wipe your nose!!

bluzdude said...

Just make sure I can still breathe.

Raven said...

For some reason we never had Kleenex in the house when I was growing up either. We had to use toilet paper to blow our noses. It's still weird to me when I go to someone's house and they have boxes of tissue everywhere.

bluzdude said...

The problem with blowing your nose with TP is that you invariably end up with a handful of snot when it breaks through. Maybe I just needed to fold it more. (Like TP origami.)

Anonymous said...

I have ALWAYS had a sniffly nose. Always. Enough that my mom had to defend me when I was sniffing while standing in a corner (being punished) to my stepdad so he wouldn't add to the punishment because I was pouting. (He was an a**hole anyway, but you get the idea)

Gross story: When I was young, I ended up with green knees on my pants. I'll give you one guess why they were green. I know, ew.

I carried hankies for the longest time and actually love the idea of owning some - just haven't found any recently. I'd love to have an embroidered one or two. I, too, have kleenex boxes all over the place; fewer places now since the precious pup has decided anything paper is yummy. *sigh* We have to hide trash cans from her or she'll dig in. Ah, the love we have for our furry friends.

Anyway, I *totally* know what you mean. I was the kid that forced the teachers to keep a roll of toilet paper in the classroom. I HATED my nose for the longest time. I now carry those little packets EVERYwhere. We should start a club. :)

bluzdude said...

Of course, the Snot Rocket Club! Why not?