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The first time I used nasal spray, I was seventeen and it was 1985: my hair was big, my eye shadow rainbowesque, my harem pants a bright yellow. That day I was a shining example of what every girl aspired to be at the time: my own version of Cyndi Lauper. My hunky, popular, older god of a boyfriend Angelo was on his way to my house to take my virginity (my parents had foolishly left me alone once again). I was wildly excited, but I had a sinus infection that prevented me from breathing through my nose, so I had to breathe through my mouth.
How would I French kiss!?
Panicked, I called my best friend Gina who lived across the street. With my head completely stuffed up and sounding like a whiny librarian—decidedly unsexy—I asked her what I should do.
“Do you have any nasal spray?” she asked.
“Nasal spray!? How’s that going to help?” Though I worked as a cashier in a small superette and had checked out customers who bought nasal spray, they might as well have been purchasing a jar of pickled pigs’ feet for as much as I knew what they were going to do with it. I was a nasal spray virgin too.
“You shoot it up your nose and it lets you breathe! Meet me outside and I’ll give you some.” I quickly closed the open mouth of my frog phone—the equivalent of hanging up—and ran downstairs. I pushed open the screen door and flew down the railroad ties that my dad had used to make our front steps, meeting Gina in the middle of our dead-end street. How many times had we met like this? A million.
She gave me a little white bottle with fluid inside. “I already took the cap off,” she said. “Just spray it up your nose on both sides—do it now because it’s my mom’s and you can’t have it.”
“Spray it up my nose?” I said. “Whaddya mean?”
“Just put the pointy end up your nose and spray!” she insisted. “Just believe me!”
So there we were, standing in the middle of our street on a bright sunshiny day, Gina with her blonde hair teased to the clouds, me with a plastic bottle up my nose. I did each side several times, fluid coming back out and running down my face, bitter spray trickling down my throat.
“Ugh,” I said. “This is gross.”
“I know, but it works,” Gina said. “Give it a few minutes. Are you nervous?”
Gina knew very well that Angelo was on his way and that I planned to go through with "It". We were both as excited as two little kids waiting for the ice cream man, but Angelo was far better than ice cream. I’d been dating him for a little over a month, and was still unsure why he had picked me to date over all the other cute girls in town. He had been the most popular guy in high school—the most attractive, the most athletic, the most unattainable because he was always dating Supergirl—but now he was single, and he was mine: a sexy college football player, more man than boy.
Was I nervous?
“I’m like totally freaking out,” I said. “I gotta go back inside and fix my makeup. Thanks!” With that I ran back up the railroad ties, back into the house and up the stairs to my blue carpet bedroom with the slanted walls and my huge poster of Billy Joel. I loved my room; I loved my frog phone. I loved Billy Joel, but not as much as Angelo.
Now, 27 years later, I think of Angelo every time I get a sinus infection, which I currently have. I’m prone to them, as much as I'm prone to still fall apart in the presence of tall, dark, handsome quarterbacks. Nasal spray, Angelo. Nasal spray, I can French-kiss again.
Nasal spray, so much potential. I’m back in the game, ready to go, go, go.