Mouth Breather

I’m a mouth breather. Had real bad allergies every summer. If I
hadn’t breathed through my mouth I would have died! I was a regular
rural kid—fishing, riding my bike, performing medical surgery on
toads, but my head had its own idea of summer fun. Runny nose, itchy
eyes and throat, coughing and open mouth breathing were the way my
head entertained itself during the summer. I remember my mom and dad
getting me out of bed in the middle of the night, interrupting my
dreaming/coughing frenzy. They’d put boiling water in the bathroom
sink and have me stand there, my head covered with a towel—“Now
breathe deeply Michael! Damn, we better take him to Wolfe, Booth and
Mayor tomorrow for a nose spray and a shot.”

Actually I didn’t mind going to the eyes, ears, nose and throat
doctor after school. I got out of football practice that way and I
hated football. Only played ‘cause I was fat and my father thought I
should. If you play football it is OK to be big and fat. It sucked
and I was lousy. Of course my mouth was always open at football
practice… fat high school football boys with allergies breathe a
lot… an awful lot. Some of the other football kids would be gasping
for air around me ‘cause I was taking in most of it, but I needed it!

And now I still breathe with my mouth open. It isn’t summer, my
allergies are pretty much gone, and I don’t play football. No
excuses. It’s just that my head got in the habit of using the mouth
for air intake. I can understand that—one big hole works a lot
better than two little ones. Air intakes in buildings are not little
holes. Did you ever see those movies where people escape through the
ventilation system? I think the scariest scene of that type was in
Aliens II when the monsters came in through the ceiling. Maybe I
should worry about monster viruses, etc. entering my body through my

Once, when I was in Boy Scouts, we collected money for a regional
fundraiser for handicapped kids—The Crusade for Children. The
coolest part of doing that was riding on the back of the hook and
ladder fire truck to take the money to the TV station hosting the
telethon in Louisville. There were about a dozen of us kids all
sitting on the back of the truck wherever we could find a place. No,
there weren’t any seatbelts. At about sixty miles per hour,
careening down country roads we held our mouths open to see if we
could catch bugs. I caught the most ‘cause I was a professional.
When we got to the TV station we gave firemen’s boots filled with
money to the master of ceremonies. He poured the money into a big
fishbowl. The host stuck the microphone in our faces and asked us
our names. I was extremely nervous—just stood there with my mouth
open… and bugs in my teeth.