I've grown up with a wonderful, loving mother. She's still wonderful and loving to this day! She's even a loyal fan of my blog and there's a good chance that she is reading this right now. Hello, mother! As admirable a person my mother is, there is one small character flaw of hers that I have long since vowed never to inherit. It is the way she sneezes.
It's not just the wild gesticulations but also the sudden cannon-blast of noise that strikes fear into the hearts of unsuspecting passers-by. It also forces a measurable deal of embarrassment into the blushing face of her daughter (yours truly).
I was at the tender insecure age of middleschoolteen when I first acknowledged the burden of my mother's sneeze. At that age, I was seldom in any company from which I would enjoy drawing attention. As pleasant and thoughtful as a resounding "bless you" seems, to me, it has been a nuanced controversy that I find as embarrassing as it is outdated. Seeing a need to avoid any further sneeze-related run-ins, I consciously began to alter the effects of my sneeze. Mediating between the extremes of the sonorous and trite "ACHOO!" and the tiny parakeet-esque "pip", I developed the perfect sneeze without any vocals or theatrics.
I taught myself how to sneeze like a cough.
And not just any cough. No bells, whistles, or phlegm. I manage to sneeze out several miniature low-decibel coughs that one might attribute to a mere throat-tickle. It's an amazing ability and luckily it is one that's far away from the snotsplosion of a previously mentioned relative.
For years now I've been able to fly under the "bless you!" radar. I find that classes stay on better track and conversations flow with fewer interruptions. Until now, only a few people have known my secret. Such as my roommate, who finds my infrequent sets of mini-cougheezes quite hilarious.
And the loneliness from not being reassured that a higher religious power has saved me from a sneezely death? Negligible.