Nose Hairs and Words

The other day my six year old asked me to read him my piece (a slightly modified version of this post) from Austin’s 2012 production of Listen to Your Mother. He sat quietly, and when I finished reading he said, good. Nothing more. Except for this:

Why do we have hairs in our noses?

(Just in case you didn’t click the link up there, I’ll give you this: There is no mention of nose hair in the piece I read.)

Uhhhhh. Well, I think the hairs trap dirt and crud so that it doesn’t get into our heads, I offer. I give him a hug and start to stand up. Teaching moment complete.

Does the crud turn into boogers?

I guess so.

Since our noses and mouths are all kind of connected, do we ever swallow boogers?

I tell him that’s a very real possibility. It’s time to get ready for bed, so I start shooing him in the direction of his tootbrush and pajamas.

Oh, man. Then we’d have to poop out those boogers. Booger poop – now that is funny stuff. You know mom, you should have written about booger poop for your show, then everyone would really laugh instead of just sitting there while you read, like I did.

Children: the cure for delusions of grandeur.

And I suppose booger poop could have been a huge hit on Sunday, when I took the stage with a cast of Austin writers. But as sage as my son’s advice was, we didn’t need it. The show already had something for everyone.

People told me, and other cast members, after the show that they experienced so many emotions that afternoon. And everyone had their own favorite moment. We’d been told that was the case last year, that each piece resonated differently, finding a fit somewhere in the audience. And while that made perfect sense to me – logically, anyway – before the show, it wasn’t until I sat in the theater that I felt the audience connecting. I could feel them reacting with a laugh here, a sniffle there; at times, it seemed like there was a physical link between the reader and certain audience members.

Bizarre. And wonderful.

I’m an incredibly visual person, and an introverted one at that. I always thought the written word was sufficient, sitting there on its page. And it is. It is, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that, well, reading those words out loud, or listening to someone else read, changes written words. It allows the words to wiggle into spots they couldn’t reach before.

So I’m here to tell you, seek out opportunities to share your words and to listen to other people do the same. Not unlike how the crud trapped in our nose hairs becomes something else entirely, taking words from your head to the page to the stage changes them forever.

Thankfully, words become something much, much more beautiful than booger poop.


Thank you, Ann Imig, Wendi Aarons, Liz McGuire for bringing Listen to Your Mother to Austin. And thank you to my family and friends who supported me through this adventure.


  1. I wish I could have been there to connect with this show. I am sure you rocked it.

    And this “Children: the cure for delusions of grandeur.” is so so true.

  2. I love so many things about this post! Booger poop, how our kids humble us, but especially about the LTYM experience. I’m right there with you.

    It’s hard to anticipate how incredibly powerful it is to give voice to our stories, but you nailed it…that physical connection that’s created with the audience. I’m not a natural performer either, but now I’m hooked on that high!

    LOVED having you in the show!

  3. Thank YOU Missy!!

  4. Wow, this is perfectly said. I have a very hard time articulating to the cast what the experience is like, but you get it entirely. Thank you so much for joining us—it wouldn’t have been the same without your lovely words.

  5. This line: “It allows the words to wiggle into spots they couldn’t reach before.” Pure perfection, Missy. So true.

    I was careful not to read anyone’s wrap up post before writing my own, but it seems like a lot of the sentiments were the same. We all really connected that day, and that feeling will stay with me forever. So proud to have been able to share it with you.

  6. Booger poop… now that is a new one to me!

    Congrats on your big performance! I wish that I could see one of the shows.

  7. I’m such an annoyingly anal writer, I always read my posts out loud before hitting publish. (For editing purposes, naturally.)

    And without fail, I think, “I want them to read it THIS way.”
    So I do whatever I can with paragraphing, boldness, italics, spacing and punctuation to FORCE my readers into hearing my words a certain way.

    Which means I totally get you. I get this line: It allows the words to wiggle into spots they couldn’t reach before.

    And now I think I’ll have to vlog all of my future posts!
    (Not really.)

    Congratulations on a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Missy.
    Unless of course you do it again.


  8. I’m laughing at Julie CG’s comment about forcing readers to read a certain way because I do the same thing.

    See what I did there?

    I think booger poop is an excellent topic for written discourse. I’m also impressed that you got on a stage. Stages are terrifying.

  9. Was thinking about you this weekend! Loved when you wrote: “Seek out opportunities to share your words and to listen to other people do the same.” This a just perfect :) Glad you had an awesome experience!

  10. I don’t know, I’ve been talking to a lot of elderly people lately, and one of the things that I seem to be discounting is how wonderful a great bowel movement can be….no, you’re right, words, and the opportunity to share them, will always, always be better than booger poop.

    It sounds like your son has a very, very similar thought process as I do.

  11. Congratulations, lady. It sounds like a beautiful experience. I’ll have to tell my daughter about booger poo. She’ll love it. Although barf is her big thing right now.



  1. First Look LTYM 2012 Season: Austin, NWA, Chicago, DC and NYC - [...] it seemed like there was a physical link between the reader and certain audience members. –Missy Stevens, LTYM: [...]

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