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"What you do next might make a world of difference."

I suppose that everyone had a loud uncle who used to play the old I've Got Your Nose Game. Even as a small child, I could see right through the illusion, though the hand suddenly grabbing my face absolutely terrified me. He inflicted no real damage except to our relationship, which was arm's length to begin with and out of easy arm's reach forever after. Who could possibly trust someone who even pretends to snatch the nose off their face? I immediately learned to keep my distance and I never trusted that man again.

The world seems filled with snatchy people, folks who amuse themselves by startling others, as sure a sign of privilege as I'm likely to encounter.
A reassuring pat on the shoulder seems unintrusive. Sudden manual plastic surgery just feels like a violation, the horror only amplified by the surgeon's hearty laughter. Of course there was never any surgery. It was what we used to call "pretend," but perhaps it carried a small, important life lesson anyway.

The Big Mean Guys specialize in demonstrations like this, small acts that they consider to be a form of hearty entertainment but simply terrorizes those lacking the Big, Mean, and fully-constituted Guy genes. The rest of us get conscripted as the butt of jokes we never really understand. Our cheeks redden and we slump off to the shadows while they triumphantly dance around, just as if they'd accomplished something besides humiliating another innocent bystander. You never get the joke and they never see the violation, as if you were a cat's catnip mouse, born to be drunkenly batted around for the feline's personal amusement.

That this form of entertainment amounts to a sort of sociopathy probably doesn't matter. What matters to me might be how I respond to these assaults. What I experience as
them doing to me, more probably distills into what I do to myself as a result. I don't have to walk very far in any direction before I encounter some poorly socialized jerk likely to offend my apparently delicate sensibilities. I could, of course, simply abandon those sensibilities and join in the general degradation of human society, and I have chosen (our felt as though I had no choice) to at least appear to join in the general revelry. Most often, as I said above, I'd slump off to the shadows where I'd wonder what was wrong with me. Did somebody tape a huge Kick Me! sign on my back?

The I've Got Your Nose Game is never about the one donating the nose, but I find it damned difficult not to take the faux surgery personally anyway. I feel violated and never know for certain what to do in response. I never see these intrusions coming so I'm never really prepared with any clever co-opting response. I become just as dim-witted to myself as I suppose I appear to the surgeon, and I can chew myself up inside as a result. I do this chewing to myself, all by myself, though I might wrongly ascribe the gnashing to the Big Mean Guy Surgeon. He just threw the snowball off the cliff. I created the resulting avalanche.

It's not clinical paranoia if someone's actually out to get you. Someone's quite obviously out to get me, and they sometimes succeed in getting me as well as my goat, but in that moment of clear violation, I seem to start the stampede that ultimately tramples me. I do not fondly recall the effect bankruptcy had on me, an experience that amounted to an almost bigger than life, real life I've Got Your Nose Game. Somebody really had swiped my nose and my ears, eyes, heart, and mouth. I was rendered as close to completely senseless as I've ever feared to experience, mere pupae in my relationship with the world. The Muse responded more elegantly, managing to quickly reinvent herself, but we both felt left for dead for a few absolutely terrifying weeks before any promise of salvation appeared.

It seems that we in this world cower beneath one clear and present danger after another. Newscasters natter over how to respond to directives from headquarters that they publicly humiliate themselves as a condition of continued employment. What will they do? They will almost certainly proceed in considerable disorder through the five stages of grieving, from denial into acceptance. Denial remains the first, albeit unlikely stage of acceptance. Everyone eventually accepts acceptance in the end or there's never really any end to any clear and present threat. They will mostly not get your nose, though it might damned well feel as though they have. What you choose to do then, before even the faintest hint of acceptance ever imagines kicking in, might not matter. What you do next might make a world of difference.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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