by Kate Mohler
I sneezed this morning and accidentally fractured a bone in my hand. That’s because when I sneeze, my entire body automatically convulses and I end up in a pose looking much like Michael Jackson did at the end of his dance routines. This morning I happened to sneeze in the bathroom and knocked the towel rod off the wall when I beat it.
My sneezes are so loud and spasmodic that even at their beginning, with the first gasps that precede them, my cats dive for cover. The three of us can be enjoying a cozy curl-up in my recliner at night, watching the murder shows on Investigation Discovery, when my pre-sneeze sharp intakes of breath send them flying. I can’t blame them because I usually end up face-down in my recliner after the attack, tangled in the comforter.
I inherited grand mal sneezing from my dad. Since he weighs more than I do, he is not so prone to flying around, but his sneezes are so loud and sudden that they can ruin the festive nature of his grandchildren’s birthday parties, causing the little ones to cry. My mother—a small woman—sometimes has to be fetched from the other room, where she has either been blown by the force of her husband’s sneeze, where she is seething at this affront to her birthday party senses, or both.
I’ll do anything to avoid sneezing in front of others, especially my students. I will resist a sneeze to the point of appearing autistic, tapping my head against the white board or spinning down the aisles to check homework. A teacher doesn’t want her students to think she’s prone to inappropriate fits of break-dancing. A teacher doesn’t want her students to think she’s human.
But students sneeze all the time in class, and they think nothing of it. We hear the squeaks, the peeps, the roaring A-CHOOOO’s, and inevitably another student will say, “Bless you.” The sneezer will be thankful for this blessing, and class will go on.
I used to say “Bless you” when my students sneezed, but not anymore. I hesitate to bring God into the classroom for fear of getting fired. But I’m quick with a Kleenex and “Gesundheit”, and sometimes I’ll say, “Didja get any on ya?”, like my dad always said when we were kids. This leaves my students staring at me as if I was a stranger from a strange land, which…being from Minnesota…I guess I am. It’s the lesser of so many other evils.
Kate Mohler is originally from Minnesota, but has lived in Wisconsin, UP Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington State, and Alaska. She now resides in Arizona. She has a B.A. in English from Bemidji State University in Minnesota (um…go Beavers!) and an M.F.A. in creative writing (Arizona State, ’94). She is a full-time English faculty member at Mesa Community College in Arizona. She enjoys working out, writing, reading, bonding with her cats Sara and Lucy, tackling home projects, and now baring her soul on her blog, www.hotdishing.com
Read her article about living in Arizona after the passing of the immigration bill here.