‘Put your head back!’
‘Non non, mettez votre tete vers l’avant!’
The Frenchman and the elderly English lady, the ears on her Goofy hat flapping wildly, both grabbed my head to wrench it in their recommended direction. Another fat droplet of blood plunged from my nose. Scores of faces turned to us in delighted anticipation of a particularly low-tech decapitation; rather an extreme remedy for a common nosebleed. It’s remarkable what passes for entertainment after an hour of queuing for a rollercoaster.
Credit: Loren Javier (Flickr)
To say my nose has a propensity to bleed is like idly observing that blasting a bottle of ketchup with a bazooka is a bit on the messy side. In the right conditions, and with the right provocation, my nose will empty itself of enough red to lick a second coat on the Golden Gate Bridge. It once bled so profusely over breakfast that it filled my cereal bowl quite to the brim; an unsavoury alternative to milk. My grandmother once likened it to a plague of Egypt. Doctors donned inch-thick safety goggles and murmured ruminatively as they gingerly poked things inside my nostrils in an altogether futile attempt to stem the tide.
It was summer, and the weather in Paris was behaving itself accordingly. The heat wave had even forced the locals to remove their berets and stripy jumpers, unstring the garlic from about their necks, for I certainly saw nothing of the sort. The heat proved a glorious, deadly catalyst.
So it was that, after my mother had beaten away the grasping hands of meddlesome tourists, an entire French youth group received the ignominious honour of having my blood spatter their faces as we whipped around Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris.
Credit: willwhitedc (Flickr)
And it didn’t stop there. Clearly my nose’s ambition was to leave its mark on all the attractions in Paris. The view from the peak of the Eiffel Tower is truly spectacular, but anyone unfortunate enough to glance up at it that day would have been showered by raindrops they wouldn’t care to catch on their tongue. My sister took a particular delight in my nose’s grisly frivolity; a well-aimed poke was enough. So it proved at the Louvre, on a Seine river tour, on the (previously) white steps of Montmartre. At dinner, the waiter made the error of recommending we have our steaks bloody. My mother was almost sick.
Credit: Premshree Pillai (Flickr)
The malady had pushed me too far. I was footsore from constant detours to a restroom. Paris cannot be enjoyed when in constant need of a box of tissues, a change of clothes, and a blood transfusion. One morning, before we left the hotel, I pocketed a tampon from the bathroom. It would be crammed immediately into any leaking nostril. A desperate plan, to be certain, and I soon became so concerned with the correct method of insertion that it quite affected my nerves. Understandably, I had never been versed in tampon procedure. I never gave pause to ponder the considerable difficulty I would face in removing it. The human nostril can only withstand so much. I’m sure doctors abroad frequently encounter extraordinary ailments from touring Brits, but a fat boy with a tampon stuck up his nose would surely take the biscuit.
Thankfully the plan never came to fruition. Which means, next time you visit Paris, you can retrace my steps: simply follow the crimson splatters etched indelibly on the city streets.
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