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Drugstore clerks know the truth

Barry Smith

Please, please, please don’t ask if you can help me find anything. Please, please, please…&quotHi,&quot the clerk said. &quotCan I help you find anything?&quotNooooo!There’s no way that I could have given the &quotno thanks, just looking&quot response, because I clearly wasn’t just looking – I was in a drug store, doing intense figure eights up and down the aisles.I’m sure that I was exhibiting the classic signs of man-buying-something-embarrassing, but since I had passed the condom, feminine hygiene and jock-itch medication sections about three times each, the employees probably thought it was time to intervene before my laps began to disturb the other customers.And they were right – I was there to buy something embarrassing, and I was trying desperately to find it on my own, purchase it quietly and get the hell out before I saw anyone I knew. The absolute last thing I wanted to do was say it out loud.&quotSir!&quot the clerk repeated, snapping me out of my daydream. &quotIs there something I can help you find?&quotOK. OK! I give up.&quotI’m looking for a nose hair trimmer.&quotHer eyes immediately went to my nose. She was courteous and professional, but she was only human.For whatever reason, the very concept of nose hair trimmers has been hilarious since I first saw them in a catalogue when I was 12 years old. At 12, the thought of having to deal with ANY facial hair was worlds away, especially nose hair. And the fact that there was a gadget designed specifically for nose hair trimming? I laughed for weeks.No, I guess I laughed for years, because I clearly remember my college punk rock pen pal phase – the catalogue picture of the guy using the nose hair trimmer always got glued to the back of the envelope, right next to the little hand-drawn circled-A &quotanarchy&quot symbol.The nose hair trimmer was symbolic of everything comically commercial about Western civilization. It was my trusty standby grooming accessory punch line – never failed to get a laugh when the conversation turned to hygiene paraphernalia.It was funny because no one ACTUALLY owns one of those things, right? They even seem out of place in a Sharper Image catalogue – sure, I can see where a combination digital-readout-bathroom scale/ thermometer/ DVD-player that you use in the shower is an important tool for today’s chrome-loving executive, but a nose hair trimmer? C’mon … just use your lighter like everyone else.I’ll spare you the details of how life dealt me such a blow that I was forced to place the most frivolous of human inventions at the top of my &quotthings I can’t live without&quot list. But it did, and I did, and now here I am, walking nose-first into my own punch line.The clerk escorted me to the &quotspecialty grooming&quot section (thank you so much for not screaming, &quotEdna, where do we keep the nose hair trimmers?&quot) and there, on the shelf next to the tongue scraper, was their sole nose hair trimmer.The Deluxe Klipette, by Tweezerman.I took it from the shelf and was immediately impressed by its heft – nice and sturdy – probably a good thing to look for in such an item. I flipped it over and skimmed the instructions:&quotWith one hand, position Trimmer in the tip of the nostril where nose hairs are visible.&quot(So far, so good. Nice to know it’s a one-handed operation.)&quotTrim nose hairs so they do not protrude from nose.&quot(Good. Clearly the Tweezerman people and I are on the same page as far as our desired results.)&quotDo not put Trimmer more than 1/4 inch into nostril.&quot(Hmmm … I know that’s meant as a precaution, but it sounds more like a challenge to me.)I took my clippers to the register and put them on the counter.&quotWill that be all?&quot the woman asked, looking at my nose.&quotWhat else is there?&quot I replied, and she nodded in agreement.She thoughtfully placed the Klipette in a small, discreet paper bag, folded and creased the top and handed it back to me, stealing one last glance at my nose.Barry Smith, an Aspen-based freelance writer, moves his lips while writing this column, and hopes you do the same while reading it. E-mail him at barry@irrelativity.com or visit his Web page at http://www.Irrelativity.com.


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