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The Name of the Nose ;- F and M

count tiszula

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"Above all, Adso, don't sneeze," whispered Brother William of Baskerville.

As I sit here now, the same inlaid pilgrimage inducing-iron up my left nostril with which I saw him tickle his nose those years ago, I hear him still. Still see the dusty scriptorium, its secret stair leading to the labyrinth above.

"The Venerable Jorge de Burgos is blind," he continued, "but Aristotle tells that, with loss of sight, aural acuity is compensatorily embiggened. Jorge has a nose for a sneeze; or do I mean ear? Not eye, anyway"


I thought back to our arrival at the monastery. My young nose was most sensitive to cold, yet I

was surprised when my master remarked,

"Adso, before that sneezing fit you are trying to hold back disturb the meditating monks, you will find the sternutatorium through that door next to the library steps."

"But master, Hah-hah- how, if you have never been to the monastery before, can you know? And Hah- hah-hah- HAAAH..er.. how can you tell I am going to sneeze?"

"Elementary, my dear Adso. Seeing a monk hurry across the court, eyes half-closed, nostrils pink and flaring, mouth in a rictus of ecstasy, hands fumbling beneath his habit as for a gremial or misplaced amice, then reemerge shortly beaming a beatific smile of relief, his gait calm and serene, and a wet kerchief dangling from his cincture , I conclude that he has enjoyed some fine sneezes within; besides, note the inscription over the door: DUM STERNUO SPERO. And seeing your chest heaving with uncontrollable gasps. and a fine line of mucus beading your lip, I conclude that a sneeze is inevitable," he chuckled.

Relieved, I hurried out, finding even before I reached the sternutatorium that the tickle was making me lose control. Twice I thought the sneeze would come at the end of my inhalation, twice my bursting lungs suddenly deflated as the sneeze evaporated. As I entered, I could not hold back. Though the darkness of the vaulted room relieved the tickle caused by the low winter sun, the access of freezing air brought me to the brink.

"TCHUH!" To my astonishmemt, it was not my own sneeze! The shock delayed me for a moment. I strained my ears. Surely I had heard a high-pitched, almost feminine sneeze, perhaps coming from Brother Boso of Douglas? But my eyes closed and

"Hah-SHEEOO! Hah-hah-HAH-SHEEEOOOH! HAAAH_SHCHAAAAAH!" What relief. As my eyes accustomed to the tenebrosity, I saw a table with an assortment of cloths, from a fine tasselled amice to a rough piece of cassock, doubtless set out by the dapifer sternutorum. With an amice I blew my nose heavily into the fine linen, for the mucus had covered my upper lip, and the unwavering tickle bespoke the inevitability of more sneezes. Still I puzzled. Behind the table was a small travelling confessional, and mid the gloom I saw through a chink in its curtains. I started; there was a figure; not Brother Boso; someone without tonsure or cowl; with long dark curls. Surely it was the peasant girl we had seen scrabbling for the pig's kidney and suet discarded by Brother Remigius.

Yet her filthy, pale face was transfigured by the sneeziest expression I had ever seen. How could she much longer hope to remain undiscovered in her hiding-place, with her nostrils so wide, mouth so gaping, eyelashes so fluttering, that the next sneeze could come in a second? It struck me, as it might my master, that she was desperately holding back her sneezes, hoping that when I next sneezed, my huge masculine outburst would mask her own sneeze.

And my own sneezes were close, but not as close as hers, I wagered. At once, I began to counterfeit loud, vocalised breaths. "Hah...Hah...HAH..." Her pert nascent breasts heaved; she was trying to synchronise her breathing with mine. I took one last and louder breath; "HAAAAAAAH!"; then abandoned pretence; there was silence; but for her it was too late.

"HiTSCHUH!" she exploded, head jerking forward, a fine spray from between her teeth. The feminine sound echoed and echoed through the deep vaulted cell. Silence. She realised that only her own sneeze had sounded, and loooked around in terror.

I stepped forward, extending the amice, . Lines of mucus hung from her grimy nose, and as I wiped them away, I felt my own sneezes burst forth, with a spray that bedewed her thin face.


She smiled up at me. How on earth, I thought as she fingered the two round tassels hanging below my thick cingula, am I going to explain this to William of Baskerville?

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Very, very compelling intro. I can't wait for more.

Ah, a Sternutorium. I'd hang out there all the time. :( (Reminds me of the poll I put up in General the other day. Guess there's my answer . . . )

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  • 4 years later...

Positively brilliant, Count!!

I'm still stunned that you came up with such a unique sneezing while hiding scenario. That fake-out at the end was so manipulative (and exactly what I would have tried just to see the lovely girl sneeze...). I love it!

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How on earth, I thought as she fingered the two round tassels hanging below my thick cingula, am I going to explain this to William of Baskerville?


Love it! Synchronized sneezing? They should have THAT at the Olympics!

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How very overwhelming. I don't think I've read this for four years, and oddly I still find it funny.

I seem to remember I did have vague ideas of a possible even more elaborate sneezing while hiding scenario, but the details have escaped me. Perhaps they will return in another four years. Thank you all....

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  • 2 weeks later...

I absolutely love this. What a unique and strangely humorous scenario! I'd love to see more from these characters soon!

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As always, I'm left slightly befuddled after reading one of your stories, and really quite amused. :boom: Synchronised sneezing... that does sound like quite a sport-type thing... probably the only sport I would actually watch. :P

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