Kleenex and Spanish Boys

This has been bothering me all day, and it’s so mundane and pointless that I can’t share it anywhere else.

So, I was sitting in my modern history class, enjoying another stirring lecture on the rise of the world market, when I noticed that the kid sitting two sits down from me was sniffing up a storm. He must have been getting over a terrible cold, because every few seconds, I’d hear sniffsniffgurglysnortsniff. Ick. There’s nothing like the sound of someone sucking in their snot to ruin a lesson on the economic system of colonial America. Being the generally helpful young woman that I am, I rifled through my bag o’ wonders until I came upon my little travel-size packet of tissue. I reached over, offering up the Kleenex, and asked, “Do you need one?” He just stared at me. “You were sniffing, right?” I continued. “I thought you might need a Kleenex.” He stared at me for a moment more, conferred in Spanish with the guy sitting between us, and said, “No, thank you. I’m OK.” OK, then. I figured that he had his sinuses and whatnot under control. But, no, he kept on sniffing throughout the remaining hour of the class. This boy was in dire need of NyQuil or something. At the end of class, as I was walking past him to the door, he said, “Thank you for the offer of tissues. It was appreciated.” I smiled a perplexed smile and told him he was welcome.

What’s with this? Am I so vile that swallowing mucous is preferable to accepting my aid? Is there some obscure Spanish custom that I’m unaware of that forbids the sharing of tissues? Was my friendly gesture somehow intrepreted as an insult to his masculine ability to fight off cold germs? I’m going to be thinking about this all night… It’s strange the things I get stuck on.

The only thing I can think of is that it was some sort of cultural difference or misunderstanding.

You say he was two rows down? He may not have seen you pull the fresh, clean tissue from the package. He may have thought it was, as we say, ‘less than pristine’.

Or, he may have some ear problems. Nothing worse than blowing your nose when you have an earache. Of course, sniffing is probably worse for the earache.

No, no, he was only two seats down. (I really need to remember to preview before I post.) And the tissues were still nicely folded in their little plastic package – it’s not like I handed him a crumpled-up wad of Kleenex.

Does anyone from a Spanish-speaking country have a guess as to if there is some cultural tissue difference I’m unaware of?

Are you sure it was him making all of the noise?

I thought I was going to find out all about the newest teenage boy band.

Recent research suggests that forcfull blowing of the nose can actually make the congestion worse. It might actually force more infection up into the sinuses. Some doctors are recommending only to wipe any mucous running out of the nose, but no hard blowing. I’m sure the Kleenex company doesn’t want you to hear about this.
Possibly your “spanish” friend knows about this recent developement?

Sounds like a song title from Steely Dan. :slight_smile:

Sometimes when someone offers me a favor I’ll say “no” because it seems polite to not have the person go to the trouble. Maybe that was his thought, and he was reassuring you later that his refusal shouldn’t be taken as non-appreciation.

I think this goes in the category with breath mints: when a stranger offers you one, TAKE IT. They are not being nice, they are acting in self-defense!

Of course I’m sure, Elvis! What, you think I go handing out my precious tissues without thoroughly assessing the situation first? :wink:

WillyK, where did you hear about this research? I’d be interested in finding out more about it.

This is a highly possible explanation… But, if I already had the tissue out, what further “trouble” would saying yes make me go to?

Oh, I was just trying to be nice. Honest! :smiley: I don’t think I’ve ever offered a stranger breath mints. Of course, if I’m getting an Altoid for myself, I’ll offer them up to any passing acquaintences sitting near me – not necessarily because they have icky breath, but because, well, who doesn’t enjoy an Altoid?

He really could have been acting out of politeness. Sometimes, when the mucous is that thick, blowing your nose makes a much worse sound than just sitting there and sniffing.

That was a nice thing you did though. I’ve never had a stranger offer a Kleenex to me before.

Maybe he wasn’t a nose-blower. Sounds funny, but my ex-husband was like this. He hated blowing his nose (said it was from the trauma his step-mother put him through as a child from forcing him to blow his nose from every sniffle he had… yes, he had issues). He did the “sniffsniffgurglesnortsniff” thing, too, which I’m extremely sensitive to and find thoroughly disgusting. He would rather swallow/spit mucus (gawd, just thinking of him doing that still causes a reaction) than to blow his nose.

Oh, btw, he was white, so, I don’t think it’s a racial/cultural thing.

Maybe he thinks that blowing one’s nose in public is impolite.

(not that sniffing it up and swallowing it isn’t worse but you know…)

Jeep’s Phoenix, hon, any time you’re in need of a tissue just ask me. :slight_smile:

You are all probably right, that he was just being polite. Still, debating it did allow me to put off my homework for just a bit longer. :smiley:

Just out of curiousity, which do you consider more in-tune with Miss Manners: blowing your nose in public or sniffing the snot back up?

Personal insight:

I don’t blow my nose in public, as (without a mirror) I’m never sure that I’ve cleaned the schnoz out properly and I live in fear of a moist hanging boogersnot. I much prefer the sniffle/snort solution.

Since I’m not sure exactly what is implied by boy, but did he have a mustache? Speaking from experience, blowing your nose without access to many Kleenexes(Kleenices?) and running water can end in a situation that is much worse than snorting.

dipity, Here is a pretty good article why blowing your nose might be bad…


Nope, no mustache… I guess I should have been more specific than “boy.” I used it to mean a college student roughly my age (19).

Thanks for the link, WillyK. I’ll check it out.

If I have a tissue handy, I generally blow my nose in public, although I try to do so away from the sight of other people. If it’s watery snot, I hate the feeling that it might drip on down. I can usually tell if there’s “moist hanging boogersnot,” as CheapBastid so aptly put it.

Thanks Serendipity! :slight_smile: