Jaxson has my full attention for two reasons. The first reason is his declarations about comics from the New Yorker. Since he reads comics from the New Yorker, something he didn’t tell me when we were emailing one another on the dating site, I am transfixed. He’s cultured, and he has a sense of humor about him. The other reason I am staring at him has to deal with his left index finger and where it’s currently digging. As I talk about a great essay I’ve read in the magazine a week before, I become aware of the floating finger. It drifts towards his face and rockets up his left nostril.
The restaurant we are in has enough light to aluminate multiple caves. I wish I didn’t have any sight. Our food has arrived some time ago and he seemed to be doing fine. Where did this new talent spring from? Most importantly, why couldn’t he have picked a place with less light? His finger looks like it’s exploring the inside of a straw.
Jackson has eaten a little bit of his food. I wish he would pay more attention to what’s in front of him as opposed to where his finger is currently digging. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he were an expert at scavenger hunting. His mouth contorts as his finger wedges deeper into the crevices of his nostril. At least his determined identifier on his profile was accurate.
Jackson messaged me with words that immediately peek my interest. He likes to go to museums and he loves a hearty game of poker on a Friday night. His profile doesn’t say anything unique, however. It states all about his willingness to try new things and his willingness to have an open mind. He’s a very determined person though. He’s a person that loves a challenge. This is why he likes to play poker and an assortment of other games. He didn’t say that his worst adversary, amidst all of his financial and cultural adversities he has overcome, was a human body part. I am amazed that someone who got a master’s degree in engineering can’t outsmart a booger.
Perhaps I am way too nice for my own good. Perhaps I am willing to put up with obscure happenings because the guy is just so great underneath. Perhaps I am really desperate. I am sure all of these play a hand in me attempting to ignore his wiggling finger. The plate of pasta before him has been forgotten in favor of a new life altering quest.
“So,” I say to his contorting face. “Where do you plan to vacation? I am huge into travel so I am always interested in where people are going and what they will see.”
“Huh?” he asks, completely fixated on whatever he’s searching for in the dark recesses of his nostril. “What you say? I was distracted.”
At this moment I have a surge of sympathy for the Booger. It has a stubborn graduate student after it. I try to draw his attention back to the food and the conversation we were having.
“This soup is fantastic! Did you ever figure out what spice was in yours? What’s your favorite New Yorker comic?” I pick up my spoon and pretend to lick something off of it, hoping he’d see the reflection and realize what he’s doing. At that precise moment, the waiter approaches us to see if there’s anything he can do to make our dinner more enjoyable. I try to mentally will him to bring some tweezers but that doesn’t work. Jackson still digs. I feel like I should do something but I have no idea what to do. The waiter is perplexed that mucus could be more interesting than flavorful food.
“Excuse me, sir, would you like to try another dish? Is this one not to your liking?” Jackson faces him and the finger almost pops out. At least it stops twitching and twirling so he can quickly say he doesn’t need anything else. The waiter asks me if I am taken care of. When I say that I am, he says he will dig up the checks. When he leaves, Jackson’s finger starts wiggling again.
I am at a loss as to what to do so I pick up a clean spoon and ask Jackson if he wants to see a trick. When I finally get him to say yes, I balance the spoon on my nose. I pray he is looking at the back of it to see his reflection. When he continues his relentless hunt, I decide that it’s time to come right out and ask him about it before he turns himself inside out.
“Jackson? Would you like to come with me to the bathroom? Maybe you’d do better with a mirror. I have a spare napkin here if you need it too.”
“I almost got it!” he says, and the crowd goes wild. I should have placed my bet early on if I’d known that this Olympic sport was going to take place right in front of me. I try again.
“Your food is going to get cold. Are you sure you don’t need a napkin?”
“I’m almost there! I almost got it! I don’t need any help”
Just as I begin to reply he lets out this gigantic sneeze. Snot flies all over the napkin on his side of the table. He looks at it with a sense of wonderment.
“Well, what do you know? Nothing was in there!”
As I am waiting outside for the bus to take me back home I brandish some napkins and admire their clean surfaces. Jackson asks me if I feel like meeting again, the next day. I can’t be mean to him. I really did enjoy his company before his finger ruined everything. Taking a deep breath, I turn to him and say,
“Not tomorrow. I’m going to go to the store. I’m running out of Kleenex!”