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The Man with the Nose
The first time I saw him, I saw him from behind. He was waiting on the sidewalk in front of the apartment building where we both lived. He was well dressed with a medium build. His silver hair in a tidy haircut just brushed the top of his shirt collar. I was curious about him. When I walked near him I caught a glimpse of something on his face but he turned away from me quickly, seemingly to shield his face from my view. A car pulled up to the curb and he got in. I assumed it was his ride to work.
Several mornings a week I walked past him as he waited for his ride. I walked down the block each morning to the garage where I parked my car. Parking was at a premium living in the middle of the city.
Each time he caught sight of me he would turn away quickly and shield his face. One morning though he could not turn away. He was sitting in a chair in the lobby of our building talking with a woman sitting across from him. As I walked into the lobby he saw me and appeared quite flustered. He looked like he felt trapped, as if he would like to jump up and run away. I saw a full view of his face and realized why he felt the need to shield it from my view. His nose looked like it was sliding off of his face and it ended in a giant red pitted bulb that drooped so far down it covered his mouth. It looked similar to this http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Feb/21/Nose.jpg but worse. I was taken aback by the sight of it but felt empathy for him at the same time. I made a conscious effort not to turn away or look horrified. I looked at him straight on and smiled what I hoped was a warm and friendly smile. I cannot imagine what it must be like to go through life with such an affliction.
The next time we passed on the sidewalk he greeted me with “good morning.” I returned his greeting, smiled warmly and went on my way. I made a point of trying to lengthen the greeting each time I saw him by adding “how are you,” “what a beautiful day” or “brrr, sure is cold today.” He always responded appropriately and seemed to be warming up to me. I was hoping that we would eventually become friends. He seemed like a nice guy and I was curious about his story. I wondered what had caused his nose to become that way and also what he did for a living, if, perhaps his work is somehow tied in with his nose trouble.
I started spending a lot of time away from my apartment. I travel a lot and spend most weekends elsewhere. Eventually, I moved to another apartment down the block. I haven’t seen the man with the nose for a couple of months. I miss him. I am sad that we won’t be able to get to know each other. I would at least have liked to know his name.