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March 19, 2011 / laughinglivingloving

The Snot Test

I have always been a seasonal allergies suffer-er.  I remember going to sleepaway camp, loaded with antihistamines to unload on the nurse when I got there.  Suffering through softball games on a diamond next to a field in August.  At age 10, not really understanding why it felt like my face might explode off the rest of my head.  To be fair, I had it a lot better than the girl up the street who had to go get shots every week and couldn’t play outside for a couple months out of the year because her eyes would swell up like grapefruits.

They say your body cycles every seven to nine years, and your tastes might change, you might go from being an early bird to a night owl, and even your allergies might change.  It makes sense to me, as once I aged into high school, the allergies seemed to subside a bit, only requiring over-the-counter treatment instead of prescription.


The summer I turned 21 (a multiple of seven, I will point out), I moved to Louisville, KY for the summer, to work that season for Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.  What I was painfully unaware of is that the Ohio River Valley is apparently one of the worst places in the nation for those with seasonal allergies.  I had been there about three days when I called my mom, convinced I was so sick I was going to die.  And without missing a beat, the first thing she said to me when I stopped to take a breath in between whines was “What color is your snot?”

I was taken aback.  “I don’t know, mother, I’m not in the habit of looking at my tissue after I pull it away from my nose.”  I was disgusted.  I mean really, what could this possibly have to do with anything?  Was she trying to distract me from thinking about dying?  Why on earth was she curious about the color of my snot?

“Well, if it’s green or yellow, you’re sick.  If it’s clear, it’s allergies.”

This floored me.  I had never heard of such a thing before.  So I put mom on hold while I went to blow my nose.  (I probably didn’t actually put her on hold, I probably just dropped the phone, so she had to listen to my snot honking.  Sorry mom.)  “It’s clear!  I’m not dying!”  I was elated.

Mom, while happy for me, was understandably less enthusiastic.  This was common knowledge for her.  “Great.  Get yourself to the drug store and pick up some allergy medicine.  You’ll be fine.  Call me later.”  I rushed out to Target, probably without even pulling a brush through my hair, picked up the brand mom recommended (after all, she was a GENIUS in my eyes at this point), and within three days I was back to normal.

I still bring up this conversation with my mom every so often.  Whenever I start to feel sniffly, I do the snot test.  And of course, I have to let her know the results.

“Great.  This is my legacy to my children.  The snot test.  I’m so honored.”

Sadly, I failed the snot test this morning. Time to go call mom.


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