Barry Smith: Irrelativity |

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Barry Smith
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

I’ve just moved to a new town, and it’s a small town, and the last thing I want to do is call attention to myself – which is why I’m really hoping the clerk won’t ask if she can help me find anything.

“Can I help you find anything, sir?”


There’s no way I can give the “no thanks, just looking” response, because I’m doing intense, conspicuous figure 5s up and down the aisles, exhibiting the classic signs of man-buying-something-embarrassing. I might even be a bit sweaty. But since I’ve passed the condom, feminine hygiene and adult diapers sections about three times each, the employees probably think it’s time to intervene before my indoor training regimen begins to disturb the other customers.

They’re right – I am here to buy something embarrassing, and I’m trying desperately to find it on my own, purchase it quietly and get the hell out before anyone can make a positive ID. Word travels quickly in a small town, and first impressions take a long time to live down. The absolute last thing I want to do is tell the clerk that I’m looking for a nose-hair trimmer. Sigh …

“I’m looking for a nose-hair trimmer.”

Her eyes immediately trace down to my nose. She’s courteous and professional in a down-home way, but she’s only human.

The very concept of nose-hair trimmers has been hilarious since I first saw them in a catalogue when I was 12 years old. At 12, noses are still very funny, because they’re where boogers reside.

Also, at this age the thought of having to deal with ANY facial hair is still worlds away. And the fact that said facial hair could be in someone’s nose, AND that there was a gadget designed specifically for removing it? Ha! It’s the perfect storm of juvenile humor. I laughed for weeks.

No, I guess I laughed for years. As I matured, the nose-hair trimmer became symbolic of everything comically commercial about Western civilization. It became my trusty standby grooming accessory punch line – the words “nose-hair trimmer” never failed to get a laugh when the conversation turned to hygiene paraphernalia.

It was funny because no one ACTUALLY owns one of those things, right? They even seem out of place in a Sharper Image catalogue – sure, I can see where a combination digital-readout-bathroom-scale/thermometer/MP3-player that you use in the shower is an important tool for today’s chrome-deprived executive, but a nose-hair trimmer? C’mon hairy-nose dude: Just use your lighter like everyone else.

Well, things change, and part of that change includes hair migration. Like continental drift, hair begins to leave the top of one’s (my) head and take up residence in the (my) nostrils, and this is why I’m now being escorted to the “specialty grooming” section. There, on the shelf next to the tongue scraper, is one lonely nose hair trimmer. The Deluxe Klipette, by Tweezerman.

I take it from the shelf, flip it over and skim the instructions: “With one hand, position trimmer in the tip of the nostril where nose hairs are visible.” (Ah, it’s a one-handed operation. Great. I can multitask.)

“Trim nose hairs so they do not protrude from nose.” (Perfect: Clearly the Tweezerman designers and I are on the same page as far as our desired results.)

“Trimmer may not be put more than 1/4-inch into nostril.” (I’m sure their lawyers make them print that, but I see it as more of a challenge than a warning. I’m confident that I can quadruple that distance without too much effort.)

I take my new clippers to the register and put them on the counter. “New to town?” the woman behind the register asks, looking at my nose.


“Will that be all?” She looks at my nose again. Or maybe she hasn’t looked away.


“You’re the guy who just moved here from Aspen, right?”


She thoughtfully places the Klipette in a small, discreet paper bag, folds and creases the top and hands it back to me, never quite making eye contact.

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