Snot paper

”Miss Kitamura says wiping your nose with snot paper you’ve already used once is nice, because it’s so soft and warm and wet, but when you  use it a third time to wipe yourself when you go to the bathroom, it feels even better.” Mothers blushed to hear this from a son or daughter of theirs, wanting to scold but note sure exactly why or how, and in the end just telling them, “You mustn’t say `snot paper´, it’s `tissue,´” only to find that, no matter how determined they were not to imagine their child’s beautiful teacher sitting on the toilet wiping herself with that lovely moist tissue, Miss Kitamura’s smiling face invariably rose before them. And this, in turn, would remind them what the head teacher at the elementary school had said about her: “It’s unusual for a beautiful woman to look that happy. I thought traditional beauties were supposed to be sad and lonely.” Regardless of whether rumors about the head teacher’s being distantly related to Mitsuko Kitamura were true or not, the mothers talked themselves into believing that if that straitlaced old schoolmarm said Mitsuko was beautiful, she couldn’t be all that “dirty,” and some even thought Mitsuko might be telling her pupils about “dirty” things on purpose, for educational reason. And besides, none of the kids who had heard Mitsuko talk about the virtues of using “snot paper” three times followed suit and picked an unhygienic habit; on the contrary, they were as wasteful as ever, rolling out reams of toilet paper so they could use just a few sheets at the end, and compared to the stories you heard about kids who competed with their little brothers to see who could pull  the most tissue out of the box in the shortest time and then sent the whole wad fluttering down from the fifth floor window, Mitsuko Kitamura’s lecture on “snot paper” began to sound like a serious lesson in frugality. So in the end no one took their children out of Kitamura school because of the talk about “snot paper”; in fact, long after the kids had forgotten all about it, many mothers found that it came back to them every time they went to the toilet, and some wondered if there wasn’t a softer, moister kind of paper they could use instead of this machine-made stuff, which felt awfully dry and scratchy sometimes.

ur The bridegroom was a dog av Yoko Tawada

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