Pussywillow Buds

So there I was, in the spring of 1971, happily coloring in the living room, minding my own business. My mom whisks into the room with an armload of flowers and pussywillow buds to create a flower-arranging masterpiece. Here’s what a pussywillow bud looks like:

It’s about the size of a lima bean but, as you can see, it’s covered with a soft, downy fuzz.

Now, for some reason which only God knows why, my mother turns from her flower arrangement and says to me “Kevin, don’t stick any of these pussywillow buds in your nose!” And with that she whirls away, into another rooms to do, again, only God knows what.

So there I am, burnt-sienna Crayola still in hand wondering “What the heck is so special about a pussywillow bud and why would I consider putting one in my nose in the first place?!?” The more I thought about it, the more I figured there must be something really good about these things! I mean who wouldn’t want one, no, a whole handful of these things up their noses!

So I creep over to the arrangement, ninja-like, and proceed to pluck as may as my uncoordinated 4- or 5-yr old hands can get in 30 seconds. I notice how soft and silky they feel in my hand, my sweaty 4-yr old hand. I then siddle back over to my coloring book, put the coloring book up over my face a la incognito spy boy, and proceed to cram the contents of my hand into both nostrils and wait for whatever wonderful thing is about to happen. My mom said NOT to do this great thing, so something must be about to happen. Something really great. Something so freakin’ wonderful that I’ll totally know it when it begins to happen. Something so stupendously awesome that… why does my nose hurt so badly?

I begin to pick – one of those wonderful, fluffly balls of goodness comes out of the left side. On the right size, I only manage to shove the four in there deeper. I start crying. Mom comes in and starts calms me down. She’s got really long fingernails – see? She manages to get 1 or 2 out. But the others are TOTALLY lodged way up there. OK – I can’t really remember what happened from that point. It’s all sort of a blur at this point. I’m crying. Mom is crying. Mom is crying behind the wheel, and being 1971 I’m sitting right there unbuckled on the front seat, driving me all around town. I’m in the doctor’s office. The doctor manages to shove the pussywillow buds even deeper. Mom is crying driving me to another doctor. He does pretty much the same thing.

Now, my dad has arrived. We’re driving into downtown Seattle. I’m in the backseat listening to my dad tell my mom what a horrible person she is. Kids FREAKING DIE from rotting vegetation in their nasal passages, woman!!! She’s crying even harder. We get in to the super-specialist doctors office. He’s a pediatric ENT specialist. Following his directions, my dad holds my legs, a pretty Asian-American nurse holds my arms, and my mom cries. The doctor produces a bizarre stainless style grabby tool, proceeds to clear both nostrils in about 10 seconds. Life is much better.

So, now, me no likey pussywillows.



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