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The Golden Nose 

The Observer is generally saddled with horrific sinus issues, due to what the best otolaryngologist in the state once called, and we're quoting here, "tiny nose holes." That was after he'd stuck a lighted magnifier up The Observer's red and inflamed nose and immediately said: "Oh, gosh!" — which is, pound for pound, maybe the most disconcerting thing a highly-trained specialist can say while staring into one of your orifices with a light and a magnifying glass.

Our tiny nose holes mean our sinuses are usually a wreck due to improper drainage, but at the same time we were diagnosed with TNH, we were also told that because of the miniscule interior diameter of our nugget mine, surgery would probably do more harm than good. We hear there's some kind of new procedure where they basically blast those puppies open with a stiff balloon, but until we work up the nerve to even inquire about that level of agony, we're stuck with them.

Maybe once a year, our normally jacked sinuses turn from gross to "Oh, gosh!" and we trudge to the doctor for a weapons-grade antibiotic and a steroid shot. After that, we're right as rain for a while, able to scoop in great, cool lungfuls of air through both faceports simultaneously like a wide-nostriled llama on a chilly mountaintop. For a few, lovely weeks, it's glorious. Then it's back to feeling like our head is stuffed with chunks of sofa cushion.

We came off an antibiotic a few weeks back, so we're in the midst of one of those mountaintop llama moments right now, loving the feel of air filling our sizable head with wind even as we write this. One side effect to that is less delicious, however. Because our nose is stuffed up most of the time, when it becomes unstuffed, The Observer can smell everything. As in: "nose like a pregnant bloodhound" everything.

In case you hadn't noticed — the world is not always a pleasant-smelling place. Sure, walking through the grocery store, you get peanut butter in the jars, baked bread, apples, pears and roast chicken. But we can also smell raw meat, spoiled milk in the dairy case, vegetables on their way to going bad. In the morning, we can smell our own morning breath. We can smell goop in the dark eye of the sink drain. Walking to work through the River Market, we can smell stale beer and old vomit. We can smell people walking by on the street, people in elevators, hair products. Sitting at our desk, we can smell our own feet. Perfume is assault with a deadly bouquet, men's cologne a Sex Panther mauling. It's probably the reason dogs hang their head out of car windows. They just want some gatdang fresh air every once in a while.

Might sound like we're complaining, but we're really not. The alternative is to smell nothing like we usually do, and in almost every circumstance, we'll take too much over nothing hands down. Too, as superpowers go, being The Golden Nose ain't all bad. Now, if you'll excuse us, we need to adjourn to the Sinus Cavern, where we'll be sitting by the Schnoz-o-Phone in case Commissioner Gordon needs to identify a certain brand of mustard from a baddie's sandwich.

Down in Hot Springs last weekend, The Observer and family almost got rear-ended. A pedestrian stepped into the crosswalk, a car stopped ahead of us and so did we. Glancing into the rearview mirror, we saw the full-size truck barreling our way, grille big as a billboard. We saw the young woman at the wheel looking down at God knows what instead of at the brake lights of our Honda.

The Observer had time to say aloud to the mirror: "Look up." We had time to consider options — the sidewalk, prayer, to yell "Brace! Brace! Brace!" like sailors do on submarines just before a collision. And then, thankfully, she looked up, terror dawning in her eyes, both hands darting to the wheel as she stood on the brakes. No rubber moan and tire smoke, not in this age of anti-lock technology. Instead, the pickup's front bumper made a silent curtsy at the road, tailgate rising, the rig slowing, slowing, still too fast, the girl gritting her teeth and squeezing her eyes almost shut, white knuckled, still too fast, inevitable, but finally lurching to a stop three feet from our back bumper, a miracle of modern engineering but close enough that we wound up with the adrenaline shakes.

Be careful out there, folks. Pay attention. The life you save may be The Observer's, and we like it here. A lot.

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