Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

A-choo! A-choo!  And may God Bless You!

The sneeze – that sudden outburst from within that lets everyone around know that you are alive and well.

“Where,” you may sometimes wonder, “did that come from?”

My dictionaries are for the most part in agreement as to the definition of “sneeze.”

From Webster’s Scholastic Dictionary: “To emit air through the nose (and mouth) by a kind of involuntary convulsive effort.”

From The Random House College Dic-tionary the primary definition is quite the same. A second explanation is for the term, “nothing to sneeze at.” “Informal, to treat with contempt. Scorn (usually in negative construction):  ‘That sum of money is nothing to sneeze at.’”

Sneezing has been linked to sudden exposure to bright lights, a sudden drop in temperature, a breeze of cold air, a particularly full stomach or a viral infection.  There are sneezes to fit every person – every personality.

Some medical authorities think there are sneezing patterns, that is, in the number of times we sneeze and in the particular way we do it. This may be hereditary and vary in different families.

I seem to remember my mother sneezing only once at a time but making quite a production of it, finishing up with a scream that scared the wits out of everyone nearby.

I don’t remember my father sneezing.  If he did he may have done it quietly into a handkerchief, but in my memory he more often used his handkerchief to clean a spot off of his shirt, to put a quick shine on his shoes, and for various other reasons, but almost never to blow his nose or quell a sneeze.

I fondly remember my Uncle Les. At least once during every time we saw him, while in conversation with my father or someone else, he would go through all the motions of getting ready to sneeze.

His face would get bright red, he would get excited, bend over, make some loud noises as if he was going to sneeze violently. But instead of sneezing he would laugh hysterically and pound his knees. And that was our entertainment for that visit.

Unlike my father, I do sneeze – often four at a time. Recently, I have had bursts of up to 15 sneezes spread over a few minutes.

The nose is the proper channel for the air we live by, and our brain is so constructed that when anything interferes with that channel we breathe it out violently through the nose, and that is a sneeze.

Sneezing cannot occur during sleep; however, sufficient external stimulants may cause a person to wake from their sleep for the purpose of sneezing.

Sneezes move fast

In case you don’t know as much about the mighty sneeze as you should, read on.

*Sneezes travel at about 100 miles per hour.

*Exercise can make you sneeze.

*The longest sneezing spree is 978 days, a record set by Donna Griffith of Worcestershire, England.

*Sunshine may make you sneeze.

*The custom of saying “God Bless You” when someone sneezes was adopted by the Christian world from Pagan practices.

There’s more:

*It is good to sneeze while reading.

*It is lucky to sneeze while beginning an argument.

*It is lucky to sneeze while going to bed.

*If anyone looks at you when you want to sneeze you can’t do it.

There have been suggestions of how to cure sneezing.

One suggestion is to shoot off a revolver or anything to produce sudden fright.  It might be a lot less scary if you follow the second suggestion, which is to press your upper lip hard while reciting the alphabet backwards. I’ll get you started: zyxw.

Sometimes a sneeze can be stopped when we feel it coming by pressing on the nose, halfway down, just where the bone ends.

The following superstitious lines are still widely believed:

“Sneeze on Monday, sneeze for danger.

“Sneeze on Tuesday, kiss a stranger.

“Sneeze on Wednesday, receive a letter.

“Sneeze on Thursday, something better.

“Sneeze on Friday, sneeze for sorrow.

“Sneeze on Saturday, see your lover tomorrow.

“Sneeze on Sunday, your safety seek, or the devil will have you for the rest of the week.”

And, finally, this from A. A. Milne’s “Now We Are Six”: Sneezles

Christopher Robin had wheezles and sneezles,

They bundled him into his bed.

They gave him what goes with a cold in the nose,

And some  more  for  a  cold  in  the head. . .

All together now – “Ah – ah – ah-Chooooooooo!

I hope you covered your mouth and nose and tried to get away from innocent bystanders.

“Gesundheit!”  (And, by the way, I discovered some of the above information in Claudia De Lys’s fascinating book, “8,414 Strange and Fascinating Super- stitions”.

“Oh, No!” Colton

We sent our great grandson, Colton, a photo of our Halloween pumpkin sitting on our deck covered with four inches of snow.

When Colton, who is two and lives in North Carolina, saw it he said to his mommy, Courtney, who is our granddaughter, “Oh, no, there is snow on that pumpkin; where’s his coat?”

                                 . . . Roy Hodge

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