Emilio DeGrazia

By Emilio DeGrazia, columnist


We all want to make America great again. So I sometimes feel un-American for owning only one nose. I tell myself I should own three, maybe one for everyday snorts, another for R & R, and a third, the nosy one, for sniffing out secrets in the air. 

If I had three noses I know my social life would suffer. My wife Monica has to live with what people say, and people care about body parts. And with my belly on a roll, no doctor, except an ill-humored local, would prescribe three noses as part of a self-improvement plan.

When I think about noses in the basement, attic or garage I never want to do without. Garage sales, like popcorn, make my mouth watery. I can’t get enough. At garage sales I always find something just right and priced too high low enough. Some losers do without. But I’m a faithful American. I make do with. I bring stuff home to the basement, attic or garage, and use the greatness of the dead poet William Blake to explain my latest steals to my wife. “Enough is too much,” Blake wrote so memorably long ago.

My wife is like my mom, who made the rules in her house. She would push my nose toward my food, and scream: “It’s a sin to waste!” It made a whole hog consumer of me. I owe my garage sale deals and personal growth to my mom’s wisdom and strength.

Garage sales have everything I want. Where would thousands of Americans be without the garage sale alternative economy fulfilling their basic needs?

Like other Americans I believe we need to “grow the economy,” and the experts inflate our spirits when spending is up. That inspires me to expand my three-nose ambitions. Why not three cars — an SUV for groceries, a pickup for nice Christmas tree used just twice, and a Corvette for Sunday drives on Broadway?

But sometimes I don’t think big enough. Why not a camper, a trailer and a mobile home for those Florida winter breaks? And a houseboat for the river here at home? Maybe a bigger house someday too, with a three-car garage and three bathrooms upstairs and down, all nice additions if I’m to keep my nose — maybe someday three of them — clean.

When I get the blues I sometimes stop to think: Maybe I should have just one bigger nose, or maybe a smaller one but more beautiful?

But why listen to experts who say the planet is shrinking and that thinking small is good? Just look at a map, how big the real world is in comparison. The planet is solid with gravity wherever I plant my feet. Population is up too. We had only one billion souls worldwide in 1800. Now we’ve boomed from 3 billion in 1960 to 7.9 billion in 2021. That’s growth, especially for the young.

We also should be proud of being world champs at having too many things to eat. In 2012 we got rid of $165,000,000 worth of food down the drain. We grew that to $180,000,000 by 2013, and now we’re up to 80 billion pounds just this year. That shows how much food we grow. Other nations are pipsqueaks in comparison.

Now people also complain about how big our droughts and storms are. Droughts cause farmlands to shrink, but then a big storm comes along to fill in the cracks. Toilet paper shortages scared us witless for a few weeks; at the same time, we have politicians who want to tighten our belts so we can grow more trees. Why trees? Has anyone actually seen a tree grow? Even Social Security payments grow faster than trees. I see trees everywhere — in front of my house and up and down the streets. I see paper pulp in those trees, and maybe some real money coming out of them.    

We have big fires too, but why complain? Fires go wild in their home on the range where seldom is heard a discouraging word and where the deer and the antelope play. But then they just peter out. 

Then look at Florida, all the tourists moving there while the ocean is swelling, coming ashore. That water is great. It fills in the holes oil drillers leave behind even in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s more than just a wash.

We have broadband almost everywhere now too, so we keep expanding in cyberspace. And iPhone use is huge. We find tons of friends and fun on those screens—Tik-Tok, big bands, and the wide world of sports.

We don’t have the world’s largest population but we do lead the world with 20 percent of our citizens in jail, growth potential up there too.

So I sometimes ask myself, why not four noses instead of just three? Isn’t what we want the same as what we need? 

We need more big picture people like my undersized mom. She always complained about waste, because she wanted me to grow up someday.