There are some things you see that you never forget. Oh, you may want to, you very well may, but you just never do. They can play over and over in your mind in a loop, clear as when you first vaulted them into several complimentary and interlaced areas of your cortex. This particular event for me I liken to some kind of post-traumatic stress imprint, and I struggle still to comprehend it, but it indeed did happen.

I was around 16 years old, very morosely attending high school in Wisconsin. It was a cloudy, windy, and chilly fall day, one of those that come just way too early and remind you that you will be in Dairy State Antarctica in a month or so. The ground was already dry and dead, the leaves off the trees. I had a few minutes break in-between classes, so I left the fluorescent-light misery of the school halls and went outside to the campus "porch." This is what everyone called it, where all the kids who smoked went outside to light up. Yes, this was condoned by the school, officially. Ha ha, wow, huh? Anyway, all they required was that you kept to the porch and didn't throw the butts on the ground. I was three years away from quitting, never was a big smoker, but smoking was better than being inside school not to mention being a social plus, so I pulled out my pack of Marlboro Greens and my Bic lighter out of my black ski jacket and sucked some smoke in. Wasn't anyone I knew out on the porch that morning, which was kind of strange, so I just stood off by myself near the brick wall of the building, absently watching the other groups of 5 or 6 kids laugh and smoke and talk quickly in the 10 minutes we had before the bell rang.

In front of me and slightly to my right was a group of girls that I didn't really know, standing in a circle. It was the start of cold and flu season, and one otherwise nondescript girl with long stringy sandy brown hair kept coughing and wiping at her nose. I stared a bit at her, thinking how much I did not want to get sick, but knowing there was never any escape. Suddenly, she turned fully away from her group directly towards me, bent halfway over, and let out a tremendous sneeze. At that very instant, the propulsion of the sneeze produced out of one of her nostrils the sight that haunts me to this day. A huge slime-green string of snot, as thick as a jump rope, shot out of her nose a good 2 or 3 feet in length, reaching nearly to the ground as she bent over. In that same fraction of a second, as she sucked air back in, the entire snot rope went completely back into her nose, like a whip that had been uncoiled and retracted by a dungeon master.

I was stunned. She was stunned. I glanced around quickly. No one else was by me or behind me. Only I saw. She stood upright again and looked at me with pale apologetic horror on her face. All I could muster was the weakest, lamest, tiniest smile, trying to apologize as well for witnessing the bountiful booger. She turned back to her group while I stood with my burning cigarette in my fingers, too consumed by what I had just witnessed to finish smoking. The bell rang, shaking me out of my mucus-reverie. I quickly stubbed the smoke out in the big silver ashcan on the porch and followed everyone in the glass double doors into school again.

I never saw her again, never figured out who she was. But her massive snot snake lives with me, in my brain, like some kind of waste product pet. That was really something, I tell ya. Damn.