While I generally reserve my judgment of people until they say something stupid, I have to admit that I have an unnatural distrust of people who hold in their sneezes to sound like little dainty mouse squeaks.
There is nothing natural about this, and if they can’t be trusted to honor the natural cleansing of one’s nasal passages of harmful things like germs and irritants, what else are they hiding?
One can never be sure.
But on some level, I suppose I can relate.
I’ve said it before — I don’t have a cute little button nose. My nose has a bump in the middle and is anything but little and cute. There’s nothing dainty about it.
But the nose I have is the same nose that my grandpa had, my mom has and a majority of my aunts, uncles and cousins have. Along with pierogi, a love of baseball and politically incorrect humor, carrying on this Polish protuberance is sort of like a family seal.
This family seal also produces loud sneezes.
When I was in elementary school I used to dread having a test, mostly because the room would be so quiet that if and when I had to sneeze, I would blow the minds (and possibly eardrums) of my classmates.
I would try everything to prevent it from happening. Holding my breath didn’t work. Putting my finger or a tissue/sleeve under my nose didn’t work (but did result in having something to catch whatever flew out at the time.) Eventually I just accepted that you can’t stop sneezing from happening, just like you can’t sneeze with your eyes open.
And I’ve also accepted that sneezing while driving is quite possibly the scariest thing ever.
At any rate, when somebody sneezes I feel compelled to reactively bless them for expelling harmful things like germs and irritants through their beak—even the weirdoes that hold sneezes in.
And despite the fact I’m not religious, not saying, “Bless you” feels uncomfortable and wrong on some level.* I do it for everyone, even strangers who occasionally look at me like I just told them Richard Simmons was starring in “Rambo.”
*However, after two sneezes I will no longer bless you. At that point you have exhausted my well of goodwill and quite frankly, you’re on your own.
To me, it’s just a polite courtesy, something that let’s them know, “Hey there. It’s okay to sneeze and not try to hold it back in. Kumbaya, Hakuna Matata and gesundheit.”
Here’s a tissue.
Like the blog? Buy the book.