You know how sometimes your nose itches in a totally non-booger-related way? It’s still socially unacceptable to scratch it, though, so you have to resort to subterfuge to prove you’re not some kind of rogue snot bandit.
You’re touring an art museum, surrounded by sophisticated people in decorative scarves, when suddenly you feel the itch. At first you try to get your nose to scratch itself by wiggling your face like a rabbit on coke, but it doesn’t help. This itch means business.
Gradually you move to the edge of the group, hoping for a little privacy. Meanwhile, your nose feels like it’s been used to collect dandelion fluff and wool sweaters.
Ever so casually, you raise a hand to your face, aiming for a dignified and thoughtful pose.
Finally, you dive in with all five fingernails—oh, the sweet relief! Then you try to disguise the episode by scratching something more demure, like your neck, as if your hand was headed there all along and just got confused.
It’s terrible because you’re not actually doing anything wrong—noses itch sometimes, just like elbows. But for all the sympathy you get from bystanders, you might as well be smearing mucus on the walls.
I have a similar problem at work, where my desk is in the front lobby. My office chair is pretty comfortable, but it is also rather vocal. It doesn’t speak in metallic squeaks or clunks, preferring a more human, earthy vocabulary
Of course, the chair doesn’t make noise all the time. It only chimes in when I have just said something like, “Hello, Mr. Chairman of the Board. Let me get an envelope for that thousand-dollar check.”
At least I can take comfort in the knowledge that others have suffered the same phenomenon.
The other socially stigmatizing problem I encounter is needing to fish irritants out of my eyes at inopportune moments. My eyes are basically big vacuum cleaners for sand and hairs, which usually arrive just in time to be mistaken for emotional leakage.
It’s okay at a wedding or something, since you can get extra points for being moved to tears by all the joy. In many situations, though, I would rather not be seen continually wiping my streaming eyes.