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embroidered handkerchief distraction


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I'd scarcely noticed the suited woman sitting in the row ahead of me; rather, I was paying attention to the speaker at the front of the room, and often had my head down, taking notes  

'Aitchoo!' (quite a loud, but not wet, sneeze), quickly followed by, 'Excuse me'. The speaker had lost my attention: clearly anticipating the sneeze, the suited woman already had a white handkerchief clasped to her nose. Now fully unfurled, its crisply-laundered folds were distinctly visible (in the 'typical' presentation style for ladies handkerchiefs, it had been carefully ironed into quarters, and then triangles), as was a large section of one corner prettily embroidered with lilac-coloured flowers 

There was a short pause, then the nose blowing began. A loudish blow, not quite a honk, followed by a rapid sequence of three softer blows. This whole pattern was repeated twice more ... what's the maths? ... a total of twelve blows, plus the original sneeze. Everything so far had been directed into the same central part of the handkerchief; all that moved were the trembling folds and embroidered flowers. The blowing part of the performance ended; the woman pulled the handkerchief away from her nose. Were there scenes of devastation? Hardly: two scarcely nostril-sized damp patches in the middle of the handkerchief, amidst the entirely intact folds. Then came the wiping; not small dabs or pushing of fabric up into nostrils, but theatrical pulls of the whole width of handkerchief under the woman's nose - it seemed unlikely that there was any trace of snot there

And that was it, performance over: the pretty, still almost pristine, handkerchief was thrust into a side pocket of the woman's suit jacket, where, as far as I was concerned, it lay for the remainder of the conference.  What happened post-conference: were there more sneezes and blowing, or did the handkerchief make it home and into the laundry basket largely unscathed?

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Thank you - really encouraging to get a response like that to a first post! The observation really did finish with the handkerchief being thrust back into the pocket, so now I'm intending to write a story (and post it in the stories section) about what might have happened next - is that 'allowed'?! A final ask for now: because I'm new, I haven't yet found how to add a profile pic - can anyone please direct me to the instructions for doing this (I'm sure it's obvious when you know how)? Thank you, and carry on having brilliant weekends everyone!

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Thank you everyone for more positive and encouraging comments - the quality of the observation was down to the pure chance of me being sat nearby and at that angle. It would have been nice to have seen the woman's initial flourish of her handkerchief and its geometrically precise folds being shaken out or tumbling open, but few things are ever quite perfect and this was pretty close!

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  • 1 year later...

Well over a year on, I'm indulging in a re-visit of this observation - it's well up there in terms of my best / luckiest ever. To give a little extra context, these handkerchiefs are very similar to the one used by the woman: a near-identical style of embroidery (except the flowers on her handkerchief were lilac) and a distinct border; she, or someone, had also ironed her handkerchief into triangles

So, for me, what could have raised the observation from a 'mere 9.5 / 10' to a 10? As I said before, actually seeing the flourishing and the sneeze would have added a little something: did she manage to calmly raise the handkerchief to her nose in time, or was there a bit of a scrambled panic (?); seeing the fabric recoil to the impact

And probably a little more snot

Anyway, now being in the mood, I'll make sure that the next handkerchief I use is one of those pictured here, with the embroidered blue flowers! 

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10 hours ago, jjp3ter said:

Your 'observation-writing-style' is really awesome.

Thank you - I'm trying to write as I see things, so good to know that it comes out right at least some of the time!

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