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2013.01.23 A very hairy situation

on . Posted in By The Way

It's hard to believe that 20 years have passed since my wife thought a nose hair trimmer would make a good Christmas gift. It seems like only yesterday because if I think about it, I can still feel the pain.

By the way, she is still coming up with odd gifts, but nothing as hurtful as this. Here's the report from 1993:

By DAVID GREEN

Everybody has nose hairs. Babies have them. Teenagers have them. Some older folks have nose hairs which approach the adjective “luxurious.”

And besides, we all learned in science class that these little hairs play a vital function in our well-being, filtering out all sorts of nasty items that might otherwise find a home in the sinus region of the head.

If these hairs of the nostril are so common and so important, why then are nose hair trimmers always such a joke in my immediate family? It seems that Colleen and I have chortled over ads for these devices ever since we’ve known one another. Perhaps the nose hair trimmer was the basis for our relationship, I don’t remember.

Colleen’s a sucker for some pretty strange items, and when she saw an ad for the Klipette in the Miles Kimball catalog of unessential goods, she couldn’t resist. She knew it would make the most wonderful Christmas gift for her husband.

The people at Miles Kimball must have gotten a big chuckle when the order arrived.

“Hey, George, we got a sucker for one of those nose hair trimmers. We’ve listed that stupid thing for 30 years and never sold a one of them.”

“Oh yeah? Where’s it going to?”

“Some place in Michigan called Morenci.”

I say 30 years because it seems that’s about the year Mr. Zippy was born and the nation was introduced to the Zip Code. The Klipette is distributed by the Hollis Company, 1133 Broadway, New York 10, NY. Mr. Hollis probably imported thousands of these things back about 1960, and most all of them are still in storage in various warehouses around the world.

Let me describe this item. It’s a hefty little thing. It feels solid and substantial as though it’s actually worth something. The instruction sheet indicates that it’s a precision instrument and warns the user not to mistreat it. “You wouldn’t do it to a watch,” reads the warning from Mr. Hollis.

The Klipette consists of a narrow cylinder that rotates inside a housing. At the top end of both the cylinder and the housing are precision blades made from old watch gears.

(Instructions:) “Hold the Klipette between the thumb and index finger of the left hand while standing before a mirror. Insert the open end of the Klipette into the nostril. Now, with thumb and index finger of right hand, revolve lower cylinder back and forth in short rapid rolling movement.”

Excessive nostril hair will painlessly tumble to a pile on the floor. Smooth, gentle, safe, efficient. At the bottom of the instruction sheet is the parenthetical word (over). You turn it over, read the back side about blowing out the blades, then come to the word (over). So you turn it over and read it again. And turn it over again. Endlessly. I finally broke free and was ready to put this thing to use.

What was my mistake? I guess it was because I sat at the dining room table instead of standing in front of a mirror as instructed. I inserted the trimmer into a nostril. Yes, it was my left nostril; I remember it well. I rapidly revolved the lower cylinder and was nearly paralyzed with pain. They say the agony of nose hair pulling is about on the same scale as passing kidney stones or having a baby.

I let go of the thing and it hung suspended in midair, dangling by the soft down of my nostril. I knew I had to twist the thing a good hard one to break it free and I finally did it, leaving a bald spot on the inner wall of the left nose hole.

I haven’t told my wife about this incident yet because I want her to have the opportunity to experience the smooth, efficient action of the device for herself. I’m going right now to have her demonstrate how it works. And to wish her a belated Merry Christmas.

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