July 18, 2007

Pet Peeves: Sneezes

I hate these people who yell when they sneeze. Never in my life have I ever found it necessary or beyond my control to engage my vocal chords while sneezing.

When I sneeze, air is forced from my mouth and nose rather suddenly, but my voice isn't "turned on." It sounds very much like "achoo" but there isn't any vocalization.

But some people, like this jackass who sits near me here in the office, yell when they sneeze. It's obnoxious.

And along the lines of sneezing, lots of people say "bless you" when someone sneezes. I think this tradition has something to do with warding off demons, but in any case it's somewhat ridiculous.

Some people in my office demand to be blessed when they sneeze.

I remember one day soon after I started at this job, someone near me sneezed and I didn't respond to their outburst. They said, "Hey, Flibbert. When I sneeze I like when people say 'bless you.' " I gave them an imperious look, raised one eyebrow and responded, "Duly noted."

'Duly noted' is a nice way of telling someone to go eff themselves.

I think that instead of everyone rushing to save the mortal soul of someone who sneezes, the sneezer should excuse himself. So, when I sneeze, I say, "excuse me," because I just sprayed everything in the immediate vicinity with saliva, dust, germs, and all the biological detritus associated with a sneeze. Really, excusing one's self is the least that one could do.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at July 18, 2007 09:56 AM | TrackBack

Saying "bless you" after someone sneezes is like an idiom for manners. Same thing with saying "excuse me" after you've burped but not after you've sneezed. It doesn't have to make sense it just has to be correct (I'm still not sure how to determine if something is correct, but I usually do whatever Miss Manners tells me).

Also, I prefer to say "Gesundheit" in place of "bless you" because its sound follows the sneeze well and it doesn't have the religious connotation ("God bless you").

Posted by: Daniel at July 18, 2007 09:41 PM


I feel the same way you do about sneezing: I don't see the logic in blessing people after they sneeze. However, my girlfriend is one of those people who likes her sneezes acknowledged. She sees it as the well-mannered, polite, courteous thing to do. This disagreement was the source of some friction between us until I came up with a policy that satisfied us both: I will bestow upon her the blessings of Ancient Greek and Roman Gods. Now when she sneezes I might say, "Juno help you!", or "Great Zeus abide thee!" This practice is no less silly than a common "Bless you" (actually, certainly more so), but it does add an added entertainment factor for me. (I am a fan of Greek and Roman mythology.)

Posted by: Ranjith Zachariah at July 18, 2007 10:14 PM

"Gesundheit" is German for "good health."

"Gesundheit" is the Politically Correct substitute for "Bless You" that is used in TV commercials and in the comic-strips.

"Gesundheit" can also be used as a friendly toast at the dinner table.

Saying "Bless You" or even worse "God Bless You" whenever someone sneezes is OFFENSIVE to those of us who are not religious moonbats!

I don't know... maybe it is a regional thing... growing up in Western Canada in the 70's and 80's everyone said "Gesundheit" and nobody said "Bless You." It wasn't until I moved to Phoenix that I encountered this other odd religious phrase.

Posted by: Tiberius at July 18, 2007 10:24 PM

It strikes me as the essence of petulant, obnoxious self-centeredness (in the bad way) to demand that other people acknowledge your spontaneous eruptions of gust and spittle. It's bad enough that one violently jolts about and spews forth all manner of pulmonary fluid combined with a sharp noise. One is not inclined to believe that anyone failed to notice the event, really, so what would be the purpose of acknowledging it for the person who experienced it?

I would compare it to passing gas. Sometimes it happens. Polite people ignore it when they hear it from others and they excuse themselves when the noise of it cannot possibly have gone unnoticed.

I will concede that not all polite gestures directly serve the most immediate action. I will accept the argument that acknowledging sneezes fosters a certain interpersonal awareness and confirms that one is interested in another's health and well-being.

Like, "Oh, you sneezed and this is an opportunity to let you know that I wish you well."

I don't care for the blessing of sneezes and while I have no problems divorcing religion from the verb "to bless" in our culture few people actually do so, thus the comment would be taken as an affirmation of religion.

Should I take to acknowledging other people's sneezes, I will opt for the "good health" route or the hilarious "Hades protect you!" The "Great Zeus abide thee" is also hysterical to me.

But, of course, I will continue to excuse myself when I sneeze because who knows who might have been splattered in my outburst. I still think it's the absolute least I could do.

Posted by: Flibbert at July 19, 2007 08:48 AM
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