Go Blow Your Nose

July 15th, 2013

It all started with a Father’s Day present . . . a half-dozen monogrammed handkerchiefs, using embroidery directions and an alphabet from The Complete Encyclopedia of Needlework, by T. de Dillmont, 1884. It took a few tries to really get the hang of it, but then I was hooked.


So I began combing my address book for other gents known or suspected to use old-fashioned cotton hankies. And coincidentally (if you believe in coincidence) I just happened to be rereading Ulysses, from whence this gem at the beginning of “Telemachus:”

Buck Mulligan frowned at the lather on his razorblade. He hopped down from his perch and began to search his trouser pockets hastily.

–Scutter! he cried thickly.

He came over to the gunrest and, thrusting a hand into Stephen’s upper pocket, said:

–Lend us a loan of your noserag to wipe my razor.

Stephen suffered him to pull out and hold up on show by its corner a dirty crumpled handkerchief. Buck Mulligan wiped the razorblade neatly. Then, gazing over the handkerchief, he said:

–The bard’s noserag! A new art colour for our Irish poets: snotgreen. You can almost taste it, can’t you?

He mounted to the parapet again and gazed out over Dublin bay, his fair oakpale hair stirring slightly.

–God! he said quietly. Isn’t the sea what Algy calls it: a great sweet mother? The snotgreen sea.

What’s more appealing than a neatly monogrammed, snotgreen noserag?

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