We’ve all had horrible moments of shame in our life. Moments that, when we look back on in hazy recollection, make us cringe and feel sick in the stomach. I’ve had so many that I’ve lost count. The overwhelming majority of my shameful moments involve me and a crowd of onlookers who like to guffaw and point. One such time occurred when I was in a co-ed swimming class in Grade 6 and was told to get out of the pool by an angry PE Teacher. I was quite adamant that I stay in the water because of my raging pre-pubescent erection which was causing me some difficulty with regards to swimming in a straight line. When I eventually left, I pretended I had a sore stomach and hobbled, doubled over, to my towel before scurrying away to the change rooms. I’m fairly certain my charade didn’t fool anyone because I was referred to as “Boner” for the remainder of the year but the only person upset during this experience was me. I try not to upset other when I am inflicting shame on myself.
I recently had a minor cold and my snuffling and snorting brought back recollections of the time when I first started having sinus infections. I started getting these horrific things in about 1994 and anyone who has ever had them will attest to the fact that they are a horrible thing to endure. This is especially true for those people around you who find the honking and dribbling sound of someone trying to breathe annoying. These infections are easily treated with hardcore antibiotics but back when I first started getting them, I generally waited until I was positively leaking before I sought treatment. This is probably a good time to inform people that this story will be gruesome and may make people sick but I need to get this out there. I am hoping that this story will be a cathartic experience and that I might get some closure from writing about it. What it probably will also do is make people really wary about inviting me over to stay the night at their house.
It was August 1994 and I had travelled down to Melbourne from Brisbane to see my family and catch up with some friends, namely a good mate named Marty. One night, Marty suggested that we visit a few pubs and have numerous drinks. I had a raging sinus infection and wasn’t suitably dressed at the time but didn’t say no to his suggestion so he loaned me a shirt we stumbled around a few dingy pubs in Carlton and Fitzroy. Our last stop of the night was a bar in Fitzroy whose name escapes me. It was a little up market place filled with cocktail sipping law students but that didn’t stop Marty and I who charged into the premises and started quaffing down beers like the world was ending. Marty took a shine to one of the female patrons, a delicate Goth looking creature in a black frilly dress, and proceeded to woo her as only a 6’3 rugby player with long unkempt hair can. I stood by and watched him, all the while sipping from my beer, swaying gently and occasionally sniffing loudly. I realised he was going to be a while so I focused my attention on the nearby vintage pinball machine. I must have stuffed about $20 into that machine over the course of a few hours when Marty came up to me and told me that he was leaving with his female conquest who appeared to be completely enamoured with him. I was faced with the prospect of a long and expensive cab ride home and started shuffling towards a taxi rank when she called out “We’re going back to my house around the corner. You can come and crash there if you want.”
I agreed. This was a good outcome. I would crash on the floor and, when Marty was ready, we’d both scurry out the door like rats in the night. After a short walk, we got to her place and they both stumbled through the door with their hands down each other’s pants. I felt slightly unwelcome following them inside but I had started to feel a bit sick and my nose would not stop running. I sniffed loudly and informed my gracious host that I will sleep on the couch but she would not have any of that.
“Oh no. Sleep in my bed. We’ll be in my flat-mate’s room. She’s away,”
I tried to refuse but she was quite adamant that guests in her house did not sleep on couches. I wondered if she re-thought this initiative in the morning following the carnage that occurred during my brief stay. They scrambled off to the flat-mate’s room get busy and I staggered into her bedroom. As I opened the bedroom door I noticed an underlying theme. Black. Everything was black and no, that wasn’t because it was 3am. She had black silk sheets and a black silk duvet cover. Her walls were black and the bits that weren’t black contained posters of Robert Smith and Morrissey who both looked out over the room with a haughty sneer. It was a really tidy room and I was suitably impressed with her standards of cleanliness. I was also really tired and rather drunk so I sniffed loudly and passed out face down on the bed. I was in a good place. My last thoughts were “I sure hope I don’t dream of The Cure. I hate The Cure”
I woke up several hours later to Marty roughly shaking me. He’d performed his part of a one-night stand and had decided not to stick around for breakfast. I went to sit up but something was attached to my face. It was the pillow. The fucking pillow was stuck to my face. Bewildered, I slowly pulled it off and we both heard a “schlepppp” noise as the pillow came free. My nose had been leaking during the night. Well, leaking is probably an understatement. Let’s just say my sinus cavity had exploded. There was thick, sticky, fluorescent green nose-butter all over the place. I was shocked and somewhat amazed at the volume. Then I remember where I was. In a girl’s bedroom, in her immaculate bed, covered in green slime. I scurried back from the toxic goo and looked around at the extent of the damage. Even in the gloom of an early August morning in Melbourne I could see that something had gone drastically wrong during my blissful slumber.
One side of the pillow was completely concealed in green snot. The coverage was so great that I couldn’t even see the pillow-case. It hadn’t dried either. In fact, I don’t think this snot could ever dry out. In retrospect, I reckon some scientists from NASA would have wanted to take a look at it. It could have been used as an excellent malleable bonding agent in space. I looked around and saw more snot on the duvet. A puddle of it, actually. One whole sleeve of my shirt was covered in it. Well, I say my shirt but it actually one of Marty’s favourite shirts. He gawped at me like I was some sort of evil circus freak. I gawped back and sniffed loudly. My hair was all gelled up and one whole side of my face was stuck in a snot-frozen grimace, like the Joker from Batman after a really bad meth binge. We needed to bail quickly so I flipped the pillow over and we both went to work on the duvet, trying to remove the damage as best we could. During the frenzied cleaning process, Marty got some snot on his hand and he started to freak out a bit.
“Gaaah! Guuuur! Fuck!” He looked at his hand in horror and made some mewling noises before trying to rub it off on his jeans. He then looked at me and unexpectedly vomited all over the bed. The situation had gotten out of hand really quickly. I grabbed the duvet and flipped it over; hiding the puke and the nose-slime, before straightening the pillow and making sure everything looks nice. Then we ran like the wind. We ran out of that house like shameful puppies with our tails between our legs.
I still feel really bad about this even though it happened some 17 years ago. Marty was absolutely filthy with me because I had destroyed any chance he had of going back into that bar and I had also ruined one of his favourite shirts. I can’t help but imagine the look on the girl’s face when she crawled into bed later that day. In small distant part of my mind I can also hear her screams in horror and she slides her foot into what must have felt like slightly cold elephant placenta. I don’t know her name and I certainly can’t remember the bar in Fitzroy but if she is somehow reading this then I want to give her a heartfelt apology. That’s the least I owe her. I also probably owe her some new sheets and a duvet cover. Maybe even a whole new bedroom suite.
Sorry about my nose.