Here’s the deal. Recently I experienced something unprecedented…I found myself in the presence of another human being. And, as if this weren’t troubling enough, this person that wasn’t me decided to sneeze. What was I to do? Is there some type of social protocol for such an awkward experience? Should I pretend like I didn’t hear this embarrassing nose explosion? Should I respond with a series of my own sneezes in an attempt to foster some sort of nasal conversation? Should I run and hide in the nearby bushes?
Okay, I’m familiar with the customary response. The three most popular ways to respond to a human sneeze are: (1) saying, “God bless you” (2) saying, “Gesundheit” and (3) running and hiding in the nearby bushes. But I ain’t a customary type of guy. I like to think outside the Kleenex box. And I’m none too fond of these overused phrases.
Honestly, God bless you seems like a pretty strong reply to an irritated nasal cavity. “You expelled foreign particles from your nostrils via a semi-autonomous, convulsive expulsion of air…may the almighty anoint you and bring glory to you and yours for all eternity.” Sure, it’s rumored that this saying stemmed from the time of the Black Death, when blessings were perhaps a little bit more warranted. And, yes, I believe one ought to avoid the plague like the plague…but maybe it’s time we let this one go.
Then we have the alternative – gesundheit. This literally translates to, “goose height.” In ancient Germany, a sneeze was followed by a quick measurement of all nearby poultry and then…hold on…this doesn’t sound right at all. My German’s a little rusty as I haven’t studied the language since…ever. But still. I mean, sure, “good health” is a little less reactionary than the blessings of a deity but I can’t help but feel that everything I say in German sounds militant. For example, whenever someone says, “Umlaut Rottweiler strudel autobahn glockenspiel Danke Schoen farfegnugen bratwurst kindergarten,” I can’t help but respond, “Sir, yes sir!”
So I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat wondering how I responded to the sneeze. Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve invented a new response that I’m hoping will catch on and become all the rage with the kids and their pajama parties, shindigs, and sock hops. When I heard that fateful sneeze, I turned to my companion and said, “Gazoonies.” I didn’t think it out. It was an involuntary reaction…much like the sneeze itself. It’s just a more playful version of gesundheit. Go ahead, give it a shot. It’s honey bunches of fun to say. Gazoonies. Why bring up the memory of one of history’s deadliest pandemics every time someone gets a whiff of pepper? And why are we outsourcing our sneeze responses to Europe? I say we all ah-choose to go with my new and improved 100% American substitute.
And God bless you Gazoonies.