By Melia Dunbar:
“Nose goes.” Say it. It’s easy. It’s fast. How cute. Say it again.
Unfortunately, the implications of the game itself are much less charming than the fact that it rhymes. We’ve all inevitably participated in “nose goes” at some point in our lives, myself included, but the fact that it’s popular does not make it an effective way to manage our interpersonal relationships. On the contrary, the more popular it gets, the less we stop to consider the repercussions of our social incompetence, and, on a personal level, the more it offends me.
I dislike the game because it goes against everything we stand for. There is no doubt, after all, that Gunn students know how to think. Our school boasts high-level academics and rigorous problem-solving classes. Our classrooms are filled with some of the best students in the nation. Yet, for some reason, we struggle to apply this level of competency to the most basic of social interactions. “Nose goes” offends me in its blatant display of hypocrisy: we claim to have the capacity for great achievement in all areas of our lives, yet we stoop to the lowest standards when it comes to fulfilling social obligation.
[pullquote]“Nose goes” offends me in its blatant display of hypocrisy: we claim to have the capacity for great achievement in all areas of our lives, yet we stoop to the lowest standards when it comes to fulfilling social obligation.[/pullquote]
I understand that “nose goes” is often used for trivial matters—Who’s gonna reload the paper tray? Who’s gonna email our project to Ms. Dur- genstein? Who’s gonna put the markers back in the bin? But our dependency on “nose goes” for small inconveniences doesn’t excuse us from our greater responsibilities. If you can’t work through a petty classroom dispute, how do you expect to overcome a real-world obstacle? What will you do to when your problems become more complicated than a trip to the printer? What will you do when a table of cluttered markers becomes a roomful of dissatisfied customers, when, instead of Ms. Durgenstein’s homework, you’re dealing with stock certificates, insurance plans and unpaid bills?
“Nose goes” is just a game, you could argue—and you’d be right. It is just a game. However, unlike most games it is not an enriching pastime and, unlike good games, it fails to promote sportsmanship. Instead, it allows for a clash of sordid vices: by playing the selfishness of the initiator off the ignorance of the enabler. The first player, in a pig-headed effort to secure a head start, wastes no time tampering with the score board. Those who blindly accept this arrangement are no better: instead of blowing the whistle and calling a time-out, they allow themselves to be dragged onto an uneven playing field. They never stop to realize that the winners are the biggest sellouts.
“Nose goes” offends me because we are better than that. We have the problem-solving ability, and we have the strength of character. I urge you to come to this realization sooner rather than later: at some point in the near future, you’ll have to rely on these traits and not your ability to jab at your nose when it comes to forming and sustaining meaningful relationships.
I could be wrong, of course. Maybe “nose goes” is society’s tried-and-true method of determining accountability. Maybe it’s the way adults prefer to make decisions. Seriously, don’t feel obligated to take my word for it: I encourage you to try initiating a “nose goes” in various real-world settings, so you can gauge the effectiveness of the game yourself. I’m serious—go ahead and try it at your first job interview. Try it at a dinner party. Try it with your professor, with your clients, with your coaches, with your consorts and even with your boss. Don’t ask me how he or she will react: I am not in a position to make that kind of conjecture. I cannot account for all of the wonderfully diverse people you will encounter over the course of your lifetime.
I can, however, account for myself. I can tell you exactly what will happen if you try it with me. First, I will shoot you a dazzling smile and offer you a chance to redeem yourself. Then, I will take initiative. I’ll set to work on whatever trivial task you’ve thrown at me and will complete it to the best of my ability. It is my sincere hope that, by the time I have finished, you will have taken your finger off your face.