129. Red Nosed

Thanks to a timely infusion of Vitamin C into my body late yesterday afternoon, the worst thing that I have come out with after my last all-nighter is a stuffy nose and a mild cough.

(not so much about the cough; but my stuffed nose happens to also be leaking. I mean, make up your mind! Do you want to be stuck, or do you want to leak?)

My nose has been a constant source of misery for most of my life. I’ve been told by a doctor (who later inflicted agony upon the insides of my ear in an effort to clean it) that I may have a small sinus problem that would annoy me for as long as I had it. The fact that I live in a city constantly plagued by bad air quality does nothing to help the situation.

But this goes beyond sickness. When I was in primary school, I found out a few months into my first year that many people identified me as “the one who looks like Mr. Bean”. Now, this could also extend to the fact that I hardly spoke, and many of them could have mistaken me for a mute; but the fact that kids do not rely on complex metaphors to convey their thoughts cause me to conclude that they must have been talking about my face, or specifically, my nose.

I apparently have a big nose for a Chinese. Oddest thing to say, but I guess it must be true. I have heard comments firsthand and secondhand from many (all of whom are middle-aged, middle-class ladies, for whatever reason) that it is one of my most recognizable features, and that they admire it – whatever the hell that means.

(my aunt said that it makes me look a tinge bit Eurasian; so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice)

It was when I came out of secondary school that I was forced to become painfully aware of this. A conversation that actually happened during my 3 months in National Service:

RANDOM DUDE
My, what large nostrils you have!

ME
All the better to breathe with.

I’m not even kidding – the conversation happened more or less along those lines. I say “painful” in both the literal and figurative sense, because soon after, I went for my first ever paintball game, and as part of the rules, I had to wear a full-faced mask and keep it on at all times. The mask, you see, was designed to fit the typical Malaysian’s face: small skull, high cheekbones, narrow chin, and small noses.

To say that I had a little trouble with the mask would be a gross understatement.

You’ve heard before that the bigger something is, the easier it is to hit it. I’ve been struck in the face by swinging hands, textbooks, foreheads, basketballs – things that would have normally found their target elsewhere on my face, but true to the Law of Universal Gravitation, the largest thing on my face attracted most of these incoming objects. The fact that it protrudes from my face like a lightning rod does little to help.

All in all, I don’t despise it. I don’t, after all, want to end up looking like He Who Must Not Be Named. It is an important part of my physical body, however awkward it appears, and is completely necessary no matter how red it becomes.

But I guess it’s only a matter of time before someone starts calling me Rudolph.

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