Responsible phlegm ownership

Last updated 12:01 20/09/2012

I was walking down the street the other day, enjoying the wonders of spring - blossom falling, weather that jumps out at you and yells "surprise!" like a pre-emptively drunk birthday party guest - when this reverie was ruined by, well, hoicking.

You may have a different word for it. This is just what we called it when I was growing up.

About five metres in front of me on the footpath ambled an older man in a hat*. He would cough a bit, taking no care to cover his mouth, and spit the resulting phlegmy globule onto the grass berm. He did it twice more before I built up enough walking momentum to pass him. After that I only had to hear him doing it, which wasn't much of an improvement to be honest.

This is the sort of thing you see (and hear) from time to time and it's always kind of gross and makes you wish that it was OK to smack people with a ruler.

Thinking back on times when I've seen people do this, I realised something. I don't think I've ever seen a woman cough up a glob of phlegm and spit it out onto a footpath. Not once. Presumably some have, but I'd wager that the "scales of hoick", were there such an appallingly unappealing weighing device... would fall on the dude side of the gender spectrum.

Which rather begs the question, if the womenfolk of the world largely avoid this unpleasantness then why can't the blokes? It's not like we've got magical powers that prevent phlegm and mucus from happening. If that were the case snot-nosed children in foodcourts would be a thing of the past.

But perhaps the ambling hat men of the world have simply not been taught our ninja-phlegm ways. So allow me to spell it out for you, chaps.

Just swallow it.

That's the time-honoured trick that generations of people who don't want to be gross in front of their fellow citizens have been employing. Where handkerchiefs or tissues are available, those are good too but sometimes they're not and in those instances...just man up and swallow your own germ-laded nose-load. Suck it up, princess. Don't make your gross moment someone else's gross moment.

Do it for liberty. Do it for kittens. Do it for the good of society.

I guarantee, it won't do you any physical harm and it will dramatically reduce your chances of being smacked in the forehead with a ruler.

Do you think I'm right about the hoicking gender divide? Is it time that hoickers just hardened up and handled their own phlegmy jandal?

*I have a long-held suspicion of people who wear hats all the time. If they're men, I assume an effort to hide receding follicles (hello, Jude Law), if they're women I wonder why they think that one, same hat goes with every outfit they have. In either gender, I consider the regular wearing of a hat as "ostentatiously quirky" and therefore indicative of possibly underlying psychiatric problems. Or maybe I'm just jealous that I don't feel like I can "do" hats very well? What can I say, it's a "thing" with me.

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