Picking your nose in public is frowned upon and can spell hell of a trouble. But that’s spoiling the start of a story by beginning at the middle. . .
Saturdays and Sundays are days of respite by the labor force in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1, happily trying to shrug off momentarily a repetitious and continuous five days’ toil every week at the workplace, until it’s back to the salt mines.
For those toiling six days, weekly, yearning is still the same, respite on a Sunday, if they somewhat grumble they toil for six while others for five days only.
Well, now, for those laboring six days, don’t worry yourself to death. Remember, you’re in common ground with the universal Creator who worked for six and rested on the seventh day.
Yearning for respite is also craved by a close knit group in Baguio City and La Trinidad, after days confined to pushing papers, pen-pushing, on field job or simply sweating until their bones ache for an honest living.
One aspect glues this group of thirteen males: they indulge in walks or jogging when spared with time. Walks mean long treks, a physical activity borne out of habit.
Now in their late forties, fifties and sixties, they can’t strip off the habit, having been ingrained as second nature in their individual discipline.
So, early morning, September 16, around 3 o’clock A.M., they met at Burnham Park, their converging point. From there, they walked briskly around the lake for almost an hour.
Rounding their last bend, the pack slithered along Harrison Rd., and rested along Melvin Jones Grand Stand. It was already past 4 AM as the sky hurriedly shooed away the tarrying darkness.
Sharing past events in their work while dissing out banter at each other, they noticed a group of seven approach the Grand Stand. The seven were rowdy, apparently inebriated.
The thirteen fell silent but intently watched the seven.
As the seven tried hailing a taxi, one member nonchalantly took to picking his nose with his forefinger. He brought out his forefinger, looked at it with insolent glee then, with the help of his thumb, flicked his forefinger with that “something” in it towards the unlucky thirteen.
Melanio Dampiles, mild-mannered man from La Trinidad, member of the thirteen, suddenly felt something on his cheek. He felt for it and found out that “something” was a thing that came out from a nostril, half dried, yet wet with mucus.
Realizing that “something” in his hand, Melanio exploded in anger. He shouted, called out the person who picked his nose. But Melanio was too late. The seven were already hustling aboard a taxi. In seconds, the taxi zoomed off.
Looking into Melanio’s hand, his friends realized what Americans call it as “booger, Cordillerans call it “nguwed” and and Ilocanos dub it as “dug-gong.”
Poor old Melanio! It was flicked to him by an unidentified person, whose message was probably, “To whom it may concern.”
Melanio’s friends calmed him down. At that point they got to talking about “nguwed” and how other people have a nasty and nauseating habit of disposing it.
Now, everybody picks nose. You and Ah. Show anyone who doesn’t and Ah will go hang himself outright at a nearest pine tree.
Nose picking is the act of removing or extracting the dried or semi-dried nasal mucus in the nose, most of us indulge in when no one is looking.
But how people dispose of their dug-gong after removing them from their nostrils is a matter that reflects utmost discretion.
Disgusted, the thirteen grumbled to each other that there are those who, after picking their noses, dispose of the pickings anywhere.
And anywhere means it can be on the sides of a wall, a post, undersides of a table, sides of a chair where they are sitting on or just any thing where the dug-gong can be stuck or wiped on.
Some people, if out walking and picking their noses, they stick the booger to the sides of their trousers.
It can be flicked in range of anybody, as Melanio got the experience of his life.
Charles Darwin, author of The Origin of Species, found this one distinguishing factor between us and our simian cousins. “Monkeys do not pick their noses,” he wrote. This is about the only disgusting personal human habit at which monkeys are not adept.”
Beware of depositing them on your bed because Sigmund Freud, well-known psychologist, declared that people who put their nose pickings on the pillow case, blanket or bedsheet are sick in the head.
Then there’s the dug-gong that doesn’t really exist except in your imagination, go on probing for it in your nostril endlessly, until somebody screams at you to stop: “Panga-asim man ta isardenk mo nga mang-min-minas ta agung mo idtoy sangok!”
There’s also the booger which refuses to be molded into a disposable shape and sticks to the finger no matter how much you try to get rid of it.
Two aspects of nose picking should be noted. First is that there are people who dig for them in their nostrils with handkerchiefs.
The other noticeable aspect is that the habit of nose picking is far more prevalent among men than women.
Then there’s this most nasty habit called mucophagy. It is the act of ingesting the booger removed from the nostril.
“Whaaat?” The group exclaimed, aghast at Ah’s revelation. “Yes, my dearies, it happens,” Ah said.
“Some people do strange things. One of these strange things is that there are those who literally eat their dug-gong, believing in the argument of some scientists that nasal mucus provides benefits to the human body,” Ah revealed.
Ah continued, “There’s this Austrian doctor, named Friedrich Bischinger, a specialist in lungs, who advocates using fingers in removing nasal mucus and ingesting it, claiming it gives natural boost to the immune system.”
“Well, I will be dammed poor boy; people doing strange things!” Melanio sniffed.
“I, too, my mucho gwapo Melanio, I, too, am dammed by people doing strange things. Now why don’t we stroll by Session Road and find a place for coffee or tea, eh?” Ah asked. To that, the thirteen nodded in unison.