Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Nose Knows

To add to the list of things you might not believe about me, I used to play rugby.  My sophomore year in college, with nothing else to do (besides classes, I suppose), I decided what the hell, I'd join the rugby team.  At 5'6" and 110 pounds, I was a natural for the hard hitting, tooth spitting sport.  Not.  But I didn't care.  I figured if I acted tough enough, I'd be alright.

I faithfully attended practice each afternoon in preparation for our first game.  Never mind that I didn't really understand the rules.  Never mind that I couldn't catch the ball.  Never mind that I was probably the smallest person on the team by about 30 pounds and had to roll up the sleeves on my rugby shirt because it was too big.  I was determined to be the next big thing in rugby.

The day of our first game was a grey, cloudy Saturday afternoon.  I was ready. I even got myself a black mouthguard for the occasion -- it was extra badass.  My friends, including my fairly skeptical roommate, had come out to cheer me on.  I was slated to start that day (don't even ask me what position I was supposed to be playing), and I was pumped.

We warmed up, ran a few laps, did some grunting, and started the game.  It was fast.  The next thing I knew there was a ball coming towards me.  The next thing I knew after that, I was heaving my head up from the muddy grass.  I was gagging on something, so I spit . . . a mouthful of blood.  I was seeing stars and could barely sit up.  It was my nose.  Broken by another player's elbow.

Any other sport, and a man down would be cause for stoppage of play.  But not in rugby.  A player may lose a limb, and the other players will simply step around the body and the severed appendage and keep playing.  Rugby is no joke.  So I lay there, slumped in the near fetal position, waving my arm in the air.  I don't remember much of how I got off the field or what happened during the game.  I sort of remember sitting on the sidelines with ice in a rubber glove shoved up against my nose.  There was a lot of blood on my shirt (which, I must admit, did make me look pretty badass).

Queen Victoria Wearing a Monster Red Nose
Photo by Dominic's pics via Flickr

Eventually my roommate took me to the hospital to get an Xray and make sure I wasn't too badly injured.  Fortunately it was just a hairline crack across the bridge of my nose.  The next morning I woke up with two black eyes and Karl Malden's nose.  It had swelled up to the size of a Polish kielbasa.  Just in time for sorority rush.  At least I looked tough.  And I had something to talk about during those boring sorority parties. Just picture it:
Sorority Girl 1: Hi, I'm Jenny.  What's your name?

WashingTina: WashingTina.

SG #1:  Nice to meet you.  (polite smile) So, tell me, what happened to your face?

WashingTina:  I ran into a door.

SG #1:  Really?  (feigned concern) Oh my gosh!

WT:  No, actually I fell down an elevator shaft.

SG #1:  No way! (stunned disbelief) Are you okay?

WT:  Just kidding.  I'm in an underground kangaroo boxing league, and I didn't fare so well in last night's bout.

SG #1:  (nervous giggles) I'm beginning to think you're fooling with me.

WT:  You're right . . . I broke it playing rugby.

SG #1:  Come on, seriously, what happened? (frustrated consternation)

WT:  Seriously, I broke it playing rugby. Really.

SG #1:  (big sigh) Fine. Don't tell me.  I guess I'll take you to meet some of the other girls.

WT:  Okay.

SG #1:  Hi Kimberly, have you met WashingTina?

Sorority Girl #2:  Hi WashingTina!  So, what happened to your face?

WT:  Well . . . 

And so it went.  And surprisingly enough, I actually did get into a sorority even though I looked like the loser of the Thrilla in Manila.  Say what you want about sorority girls, but at least some of them were able to see my inner beauty.

As far as rugby goes, that was my first and last match.  I decided to listen to my nose, and preserve the better features of my face for future bad decisions. Besides, sorority life was much more my speed.

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