Author: Cornish, Rick

Family Nose Story
Today's column from Rick Cornish (
Friday, June 8, 2007

There was a story in my family that was repeated at many a major extended clan gathering….Christmas dinners, BBQ’s at the river, grandparents anniversaries, anywhere that parents and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents gathered. It was usually told by my mother, but sometimes by my father, and I remember my aunt Alice telling the story once. It was a story about my nose.

Oh, I was in terrible labor. Terrible, terrible, my mom would begin. Seventeen hours, and Bebe, you know Bebe, he was out with the ‘boys’. (Sometimes Millie, that was my mother’s name, would get sidetrack here and go on to tell how my dad just sort of went incommunicado for a day or so at my birth and she got even with him by naming me after a little neighborhood boy who Bebe, that was my father, despised. But usually she’d stick with the nose story.)

So there I was, in labor for at least twenty hours, trying to give birth to this monster of a baby…he weighed eleven pounds, two ounces, you know….(Millie was a very petite four foot eleven), and Dr. Runyon was doing everything he could do but Ricky just wasn’t about to come out. Then all of a sudden, I swear I’ll never forget it, it was two in the morning, here all of a sudden he starts coming like a freight train, and, there you go, plops right out and into the hands of Dr. Runyon. The nurse wipes my big baby off and then Dr. Runyon holds him up for me to see, and, ohhhh, the only thing I can think to say is, “Oh, my God, Dr. Runyon, his nose is so BIG.” And Dr. Runyon says right back, “Well, Mrs. Cornish, your nose isn’t exactly petite, you know.”

And everybody would roar with laughter, like it was the very first telling. I remember that even I would laugh, but I honestly don’t remember why. It couldn’t have been funny to me. I think this sort of thing is called unadaptive anxiety reaction.

Okay, so it’s the day before many of us leave for Grass Valley and the Fathers Day Festival and all the preparations that will take until kick off next Thursday morning…, why the nose story? Why not a few words about the event, a little encouragement to people still on the fence about whether to drive up or not. Maybe just a long, sappy good-bye for now, see you soon? Well, here’s why. Last Saturday I was digging postholes in my back yard, I hit a serious vein of hard-pack (that’s somewhere between dirt and rock, but more like rock), and as I tried breaking it up with a pneumatic air-hammer, I breathed in about a pound and a half of dust. Very, very serious quantity of dust. By the time I went to bed that night I’d begun to feel cold symptoms; the next day I fought it and fought it with all my might; by Monday I was fully engaged…..nose, throat, chest, the whole deal, and by Wednesday night it was clear the cold had progressed into a bronchial infection, for which I’m now taking anti-biotics.

But still, you ask, why was the Cornish Family Nose Story so much on my mind when I sat down to write the Welcome this morning that I wasted a good forty-five minutes telling it? Here’s why. As I sat on the couch last night, utterly miserable, sneezing, hacking, sniffling, running at the nose, eyes watering, throat on fire, head pounding like an over-inflated rugby ball….as I sat worrying how I was going to be healthy enough to spend the next day packing the trailer and truck, fetching my shirts from the dry cleaners, seeing to lose ends at work, setting the web site on auto-pilot (in short, doing everything I’d planned to spend the ENTIRE WEEK doing)….as I sat there on the couch feeling lost and hopeless and utterly miserable, my wife Lynn glanced up from her book and asked, with the matter-off-fact voice with which one would ask the time of day, “Do you suppose the reason you get such bad colds is because your nose is so damned big?”

Posted:  6/5/2007

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