Sunday, June 20, 2010

Case Study #30

Dear Dr. Brian,

How does one begin the “excessive nose hair” conversation with one’s new boyfriend?




Dear Perp,

First, I’d like to extend to you my deepest sympathies, for even though you may still be in the exciting throes of the first tender days of newfound love, the relationship is clearly over.

No amount of counseling or careful review of women’s magazines can overcome the atrocity of a partner who does not trim adequately. Eventually, you will not be able to leave the house, and the mere sight of him can cause histrionic screaming. Save yourself the time and effort, and make preparations to move on.

Perhaps you may find this assessment to be a bit harsh, overly reactionary and such, possibly even flippant and callous about the level of affection you have for your partner. Sadly, love does not overcome all, despite the many Hallmark movies that vainly try to prove otherwise. And love certainly does not, in the end, overcome a man who could put your eye out during a passionate embrace.

Yes, poor woman, this is not only a matter of unattractive and mortifying nasal protuberances. It is also a matter of personal safety. You could be severely injured at any time, despite the resourcefulness of precautionary measures you may take. You can only persevere for so long. At some point you will have to remove the protective body gear, and your delicate skin will be at tremendous risk.

In theory, of course, if your love for this man is deep enough, the two of you could agree to a romantic arrangement that is devoid of any physical intimacy. You could care for one another from afar, as it were. Perhaps you can reside in opposite ends of the house, with a glass wall firmly separating you from Edward Scissornose. For some playful excitement, you can pretend that one of you has been incarcerated for an unmentionable crime, and proceed to express your physical lust by pawing at one another through the impersonal glass.

I must caution you, though, that this glass must be at least 6 inches thick. Those hairs are incredibly sharp, and can cut through almost all natural and manmade materials, especially the wiry hairs that twist and turn for no apparent reason. You must remain vigilant at all times.

And really, would this be any way to live, having to avoid one another at all costs? This type of distance is usually reserved for the later years in a relationship, where you have grown to hate the sight of each other, both of you reduced to using the children and your credit cards to inflict emotional wounds on each other.

You owe it to yourself to fully enjoy the traditional first years of a partnership, when you actually enjoy being around your supposed soul mate before you finally learn everything there is to know about him, and realize he has very few redeeming qualities and that you were clearly blind in the days of wine and roses.

Now, having rattled on about all that, I suppose it’s only fair that I mention one alternate scenario which should be considered. After all, I do have some personal experience to add to this unfortunate mix. Normally, I refrain from sharing intimate details of my own life, unless required to do so by law or enabled by the over-imbibing of alcoholic spirits.

You see, I am also the victim of misbehaving and stealthy nose hairs. There is a degree of shame with this pronouncement, but I can sense that you are very troubled by your current dilemma. (One sign of your pain is the sentence you scrawled on the back of this letter, in Rustic Kumquat nail polish, which reads “I have dreams of porcupines and darkness.”)

However, despite my own body rebelling against me by producing hairs where hairs shouldn’t be, I am one of the 3% of people with this condition who has actually tried to do something about it. (The remaining 97% do nothing and don’t seem to care. Such behavior also explains other troubling human conditions, like politicians getting elected despite obvious mental issues, and medical practitioners who charge $600 to take your blood pressure.)

But my journey to personal body-hair salvation has been long, and the battle never ends. (In my youth and preliminary professional days, I did not have this problem. Then again, we never have physical problems when we are young. Everyone is beautiful and flexible, lulling us into a false sense of invincibility, a sense that is shattered as we age and things start to malfunction. This is why everyone over 40 is bitter.)

I have tried an endless number of hygiene products and devices through the years. And I have done so with fierce determination. I have shaved and plucked and scoured, trying various chemical concoctions and applying poultices, pillaging the Internet for any mechanical contraption that might offer even minimal release from my private hell.

Alas, I am always disappointed. I can get my nasal canals polished to a shine, devoid of any hint of growth. Two hours later, a hair will spring out of nowhere, stabbing downward with an audible click of spite and meanness. And this will usually happen in an awkward social situation, such as a dinner party, the least beneficial time for a sudden hair appearance, because I don’t have any of my tools with me and therefore any reparative actions are compromised.

I usually end up huddled in someone’s half-bath, surrounded by hideous wallpaper and those annoying hand towels that you can’t really use, yanking at the elusive demon hair in a frenzy of search and destroy. This, of course, is not a pleasant action, and I must lie to my colleagues and explain that my screams were the result of passing a kidney stone. On a social scale, it’s better to have crystallized objects in your digestive system rather than confess to having a nose with its own landscaping.

Anyway, my dear Perv, it is imperative that we determine the mental attitude of your man toward his nose hairs. Has he, like me, struggled in shame to deal with this overwhelming situation, all to little avail despite his good intentions? If so, you must work to save your love, assuming that everything else about him is acceptable and hygienic. If he has no idea what you’re talking about, your love is doomed.

So sit your man down, join him on the couch if it’s safe to do so without risking bodily harm, and gently but firmly ask him. What’s up with the nose hair? If he bursts into tears, and then shows you his “special drawer” in the bathroom, full of implements and creams, then your relationship has a chance. Be supportive and suggest therapy. Perhaps Oprah can do a special before she ends her show and goes off to purchase the 4% of the world that she doesn’t already own.

If your mate refuses to admit there’s a problem, or, even worse, acknowledges the nose hairs and thinks there’s nothing wrong with them, possibly even having given them their own names, then you know what you have to do. Begin taking the necessary legal steps to ensure that you never have to see this person again. (Speaking of legalities, it is my professional duty to advise you of a possible third reaction: He may pick up a salad fork and lunge at you, screaming something about disappointments and poor choices. If that happens, you have an entirely different situation on your hands.)

Let me know how it goes. Lanae at the reception desk has my cell phone number in case things get overly dramatic and intense. Of course, I probably won’t answer it until your check for this session has cleared the bank…


Dr. Brian

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