This came to my mind while I was walking and observed the following:

A guy was picking his nose with his pinky. He had at least the first section of his pinky up his nose. This was in broad daylight!

What is the etiquette for picking ones nose?

There are many techniques out there...some more discreet than others...

It's a natural thing...i.e. to have dirt trapped in the nosehairs so why shouldn't picking ones nose be a natural act?

Ms. Manners didn't really want to weigh in on this subject, but now that it's come up, she feels compelled. Let's get one thing straight, however: We will not refer to this as "nose picking." It shall be known, for our purposes here, as numie harvesting.

The proper techniques for harvesting your numies in public depend, in large part, on the numie itself. Here are the different types of numies known to exist in North America:

  • The crustacean. Very hard and self contained.
  • The flipper. Somewhat hard in the center, but with a slimy residue.
  • The oyster. Completely runny, and almost impossible to manage.

Now, if one is removing the crustacean one can simply turn one's head and pretend to cough. With a supple insertion of the index finger (assuming nails are at perfect numie harvesting length) and a gentle twist, one can have the crustacean out and flipped to the floor before anyone notices anything amiss. As for nail length, do not even attempt to remove this most mild-mannered of all boogers with those artificial spears that some girls wear these days. You could easily perform a frontal lobotomy on yourself. (Not that this wouldn't be a good idea in some of your lives, but I don’t care for a lawsuit here.)

The flipper offers a more challenging removal technique. One must act as if one has swallowed the wrong way, and turn one's back to the people in the area, coughing just enough to make it seem as if you need some "room to breathe." This strain of numie usually calls for the index finger, as well. Slide the fingernail under the hard portion of the flipper and pull it out quickly. As soon as it is out in the open, quickly twirl the residue around your finger to form one solid mass. Then act as if one more cough will do it, lean over, and wipe the thing on the bottom of your shoe. Wipe it on the portion of the sole of your shoe just above the heel, so that it will remain there until it dries and falls off. This is only good manners; you do not want to leave this on a nice carpet in your host's home, do you?

Now, the oyster is a different animal altogether. I hesitate to tell you this, but the oyster is going to require the warehouse blow. This is when you press one nostril tightly closed, lean over and, with all your might, force as much air through the remaining nostril as you can muster. The oyster will usually exit the nostril at approximately 400 MPH and stay wherever it lands until the end of time. Obviously, you are going to have to wait until the loud portion of the opera to which you are listening comes around. I would suggest just after the homosexual swordsman discovers that his overweight pseudo-wife has been in a dalliance with the yardboy. Once you've performed the warehouse blow, preferably into a potted plant, do not wipe your nose. This will only convince those who thought they saw you do this that they were correct.

Next week: How to wipe your ass on a cruise ship.

How to perform the act:

  • Extend forefinger (the one you use to point at things with), ensuring other fingers are bunched up to keep them out of the way.

  • Insert into either nostril and start digging.

  • Once you have managed to hook the offending obstruction, extract carefully, so as not to dislodge it from your finger and leave it hanging from your nose.

  • Wipe snot encrusted finger in a non offensive position where you are not likely to find it again (more on this shortly).
  • The best nose-picking locations:

    In the car.

    One of the better, and most commonly used positions for extracting bogies is in the car. Most people make the mistake of performing this private, and somewhat embarrassing act in broad daylight. Somehow these people think that once inside their vehicle they are invisible. Do not do this. This act is best performed at night time. Next time you are driving at night, take a look at the drivers of the other cars approaching you - you cannot see them because it is dark inside their cars, and their headlights dazzle you. You can therefore assume nobody can see you, unless there is a car behind you. In this situation, you can be spotted because your silhouette can be seen, or the inside of your car is lit up by their headlights, making you visible to oncoming cars.

    In an elevator/lift:

    Sometimes an elevator/lift can be used for this art form, if you are in there alone. First survey the enclosure for hidden cameras, or you will find that you are on the next Real TV episode, or emailed to the world in MPEG format. Ensure you are travelling several floors, and that if, during your trip to another floor, the lift starts slowing to pick up another passenger, you are able to stop what you are doing and ensure any sticky residue is removed prior to them alighting.

    On the toilet:

    This is where you can ensure you are not disturbed, and have an ample supply of wiping-upon material. Just make sure you don’t touch anything you shouldn’t before going for gold, as germs can be transmitted through your nose quickly to your lungs or even to your brain. Not pleasant.

    In public:

    It is very difficult to be discrete about nasal-reaming when there are possible spectators. This is best left to the experts. A couple of tricks to try, however, are to bend down and pretend to tie your shoelace, during this time anyone looking will only see the back of your head, and you’ll have time for a quick dig. Try covering your nose with a handkerchief pretending to blow it, whilst the other is behind it having a covert fossick.

    Where to wipe:

    It is best to wipe your discoveries somewhere hygienic, and safe from being found again. Mucus in the nose can harbour germs that your body has expelled, or ones that have got caught in the sticky mess on their way into your lungs. I highly recommend not eating this filth, it is a dirty habit, and not very pleasant to watch, let alone partake in.

    The car:

    It is difficult to find an acceptable receptacle for your unwanted crustaceans. Your best bet is to wind down the window and flick them at passing cars or pedestrians. Not only does this allow you to dispose of said waste, but also acts as a form of entertainment. An alternative is to find a piece of rubbish on the floor of the car, such as an old serviette or tissue, otherwise simply wipe it under the seat (you’ll need to ensure you chip them off the next time you vacuum the car).

    In an elevator/lift:

    Often the walls of a lift are carpeted, and offer a good abrasive surface to rid your finger of unwanted stickiness. There is also usually a handrail, under which can be hidden your nose-trophies. Just be sure not to put your hand under there in future.

    On the toilet:

    As stated earlier, there is sufficient absorbent material at hand to use for removal of nose-soil, but if you are feeling particularly naughty, you could always use the potplant, or the stupid macramé doll that your auntie gave you to cover the spare toilet roll.

    In public:

    Depending upon the circumstances, there is a plethora of sites upon which to wipe your crusty extractions. These can range from the floor, to under a table, to the back of someone’s shirt. Be adventurous, be resourceful, see how many you can flick into somebody’s coffee without being noticed.

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