The nose picker

I wrote the following column about a year ago, and it never ran. Figured I’d post it here—sort of made me laugh at the time. Definitely watch the video—it’s classic. Here’s the link: The nose picker

And here’s the column …

I pick my nose.
Not all the time, really. Just when I’m watching TV. And listening to music. And playing XBox. And eating pickles. And—gimme a second—writing this column.
What can I say? Nose picking feels good. More important, it’s efficient. Why waste those precious six steps to the tissue box when I can break out the right index finger, insert here and twist?
And when there’s no place to wipe the sticky little suckers (under my car seat, in my coat pocket, on my guinea pig’s head, etc), I, uh, I, uhm, open my mouth and, uhm, well … yeah.
I am confessing such not to bare my (booger-stuffed) soul, but to offer solidarity to a man who deserves better than the ridicule he has received of late.

If you are a sports fan, a Youtube addict or Youtube-addicted sports fan, by now you have surely watched the video of Tom Asbury, Alabama’s assistant men’s basketball coach, picking his nose and eating it during a game against LSU a few months back. The clip is—to be blunt—sort of nasty. With the camera unknowingly focused on his head, Asbury takes his left pinky, stuffs it in his right nostril, then goes straight for the mouth. Thanks to a 23-year-old Youtube poster from Olive Brach, Mississippi nicknamed Tbbaker, nearly 160,000 viewers have watched Asbury do his thing. In fact, in his 54-second posting, Tbbaker allows us to watch in real time and slow motion—background guffawing tossed in for free.
For good and for bad, this is the society we live in. Whether you’re a TV star, a fireman, a journalist, a butcher or an obscure assistant basketball coach, your humiliating moments are just a download away from being viewed worldwide. I pick my nose, my cousin picks his nose, my best friend picks his nose, Lou Piniella picks his nose (I’ve seen it)—but Tom Asbury gets caught, exposed and mocked.
Here’s the thing: It couldn’t happen to a less deserving guy. In a profession chock full o’ creeps, crooks and cons, Asbury is an honest, decent 61-year-old man who announced his retirement from coaching a few weeks ago and deserves—no, needs—to go out better. A former head coach at Pepperdine and Kansas State, Asbury is leaving the Crimson Tide sideline after four years to care for his wife, Carlie, who is battling Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and abdominal cavity. “I couldn’t afford to spend the time that this job requires,” Asbury said upon departing. “My wife has responded well (to treatment), but you just never know with cancer.”
Sadly, this is not the first unbearable tragedy Asbury has encountered. On Sept. 12, 1993 his older daughter Stacey died of complications from anorexia nervosa, a mysterious eating disorder characterized by low body weight and body image distortion with an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Once a healthy 5-foot-8, 130 pounds, Stacey was so overcome by anorexia that, in her final hours, she weighed approximately 90 pounds. Her father watched her slow deterioration, helpless to do much of anything besides support the various hospital visits and 12-step programs. “Everything was tried,” her doctor told the Los Angeles Times at the time. “She just died anyway.”
See, this is the problem when we aim to mock; when we seek out the lowest vulnerabilities and expose them for cheap guffaws. Behind every person there is pain and suffering, or at least a story we should probably hear.
Yes, Tom Asbury did pick his nose.
But, for the sake of righteousness, let’s be honest here.
Haven’t you, too?