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Inhaling and hearing an echo

Country Roads

April 2, 2012
Arvid Huisman , The Daily Freeman Journal

Recently I was given an insulated travel coffee cup by a firm with which we do business. It's a lovely cup - tall, slender, stainless steel inside and out, nice rubber grip on the outside.

A couple of weeks ago I had a 7 a.m. appointment in Newton, which is about a 40-minute drive from my home. At that time of day I need java to go so I filled up my new insulated travel cup.

After merging onto I-80 and comfortably on my way, I flipped open the lid and took a sip of coffee. Or rather, I tried to take a sip of coffee.

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I was cruelly reminded that slender cups don't work well for me. I have a larger-than-average nose which makes it difficult to sip coffee out of a slim cup. I prefer wider cups.

We all have genetic burdens to bear. Genetics affect our height, weight, skin tone, eye color nearly everything about us. I am a large guy and come from a line of large people. My outspokenness is a family trait. And, yes, my nose is a familial characteristic, too. Big noses run in our family.

My ancestral tradition is noted for its frugality so it should follow that we would have big noses. After all, air is free!

I like to joke that we Huismans are proud of our noses they are hand picked. (Some folks, I have learned, don't appreciate that kind of humor.) Fortunately I married a woman with a cute little nose and whose nose genes were passed on to our children.

Some people with larger noses are uncomfortable with them. Rhinoplasty plastic surgery performed on the nose is a popular procedure these days.With a low pain threshold I have never considered surgery on my nose. I'm comfortable with my nose which isn't all that out of place on a large head (not to be confused with a fat head.)

Jimmy Durante is the first person I think of when it comes to someone who was comfortable with a large nose. Durante had fun with his ample beak. He called it his "schnozzola."

How about actor Karl Malden? He had a very prominent nose as did W.C. Fields and Walter Matthau.

The only large nosed woman celebrity of late that I can recall is Barbara Streisland. Frankly, with a voice like hers who notices her nose?

The history of the Wild West records a colorful woman who was known as Big Nose Kate. A photograph of Kate as a middle-aged woman shows an ample honker.

Mary Katharine Haroney was born to wealthy parents in Hungary in 1850. The family emigrated to the U.S., moving on to Mexico and then to Davenport, Iowa.

After Mary Katharine and her younger siblings were orphaned in Davenport, the 16-year-old ran away to St. Louis and ended up in Kansas where she worked in a brothel and met the famous gunslinger Doc Holiday. The pair reportedly had a turbulent on-again-off-again love affair that went on for decades.

Big Nose Kate's Saloon and Eatery -- restaurants in Tombstone, Arizona, and Staten Island, New York are named for the former Iowan.

Most folks with a larger than normal nose have not let their proboscis impede their success, nor have I. Like the rest of me, it's who I am.

Sometime I'd like to go to Lagenbruck, Germany, where every five years contestants vie for the title of "Big Nose World Champion."

Some 50 years ago, after making fun of each others' large noses over beers in a Lagenbruck pub, several townspeople established an Association of Big Noses. Today the Big Nose Club has 330 registered members. To qualify, your nose has to be at least 60mm (2.36") long or 40mm (1.57") wide.

In the Big Nose competition judges use a measuring device to determine the winner, though I have no idea exactly how they measure each snout. Contestants are allowed to frown or make faces in order to enlarge their noses, but they aren't allowed to use any illegal substances.

So, I have lived a full life with a plus-size nose - in spite of the fact that when I stop to smell the flowers, the flowers are scared. And sometimes when I inhale I hear an echo.

I have a good nose, as noses run.



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