One of my earliest childhood memories involves a church, an eraser, and a nose. I was about four years old that bright Sunday morning as I sat by my Mom in the rose colored pew. Our small, quaint church was nestled between rice fields and cotton in our little town of 327 residents.
It was an ordinary day but with my curious little mind things were about to be extraordinary. As I did during most sermons, since we didn't have "children's church" back then, I entertained myself with a pencil and the paper bulletin. This particular day I had grown tired of doodling on the familiar typed order of service so I searched for more creative activities. I stuck the yellow No. 2 pencil I was writing with, eraser end first, straight up my nose. I'm still not sure what part of me thought that was a good idea or what I thought I might accomplish from it. In any case, the eraser broke off into my nose and stayed comfortably lodged as the pencil slid out with ease.
Once my Mom realized what I had done and that she could not discreetly dig elbow deep into my nostril to pull it out, she swept me up and slipped out the back door of the church mid sermon. I remember vividly our car parked under the giant shade tree right in the middle of the gravel parking lot. Mom picked the smallest twig she could find from the tree. She propped the heavy car door open and sat at the edge of the passenger seat as she held my head in her lap with my body awkwardly dangling outside. She dug for what seemed like an eternity to no avail. Finally, we just sat in the car waiting for Dad to get out of church.
All the way home Mom and Dad discussed this strange predicament. What could they possibly do? Several scenarios played out in my mind, but I came to the conclusion that this thing was stuck forever. I snapped back just in time to hear Mom and Dad say that if the eraser had not come out by the time we were finished with lunch, they would have no other choice than to take me to the hospital.
What? Not the hospital! That was one thing I hadn't thought about. Panic started to set in. I had to think fast. Tweezers hadn't worked. Sticks didn't work. The eraser had lodged deeper on a couple of attempts at retrieving it. And, there was nowhere I could hide.
Before I knew it everyone had changed into their casual clothes and lunch was over. I couldn't put it off anymore. As I fought back the tears Mom and I headed to the front door. Just as Mom reached to open the old screened door, I stopped short. I felt a strong tingle, then tickle. Then it happened.
That's all it took. One big sneeze and the eraser flew out of my nose hitting the front door on it's way out. Talk about timing!
Curiosity didn't kill this cat, but it did teach me some valuable lessons that day.
1. Pencils are for writing.
2. Always pay attention to the sermon.
3. When in doubt, sneeze it out!
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