The Great Achoo   1 comment

I just sneezed 5 times, and sounded just like my mother.  And by saying that, I mean she probably heard the echoes 1,800 miles away.

Payton at 6 weeks.  Her sneezing is still something we anxiously await to experience.

Is it any wonder that Alley is so concerned that my Granddaughter will hear sneezes from me or my son?  I know it’s not from her concern that Payton will be startled.  Rather, she’s afraid Payton will become afraid of what her genetic legacy might be.  Will her Great Grandmother’s sneezes be passed to her?  THAT is a frightening question.

Payton has no hope from my side of the family, unfortunately.  Great Grandma’s sneezes may be loud, but Great Grandpa’s were legendary.  When a sneeze seized him by the throat, he was left a quivering puddle of red flesh, only allowed respite when every molecule of oxygen had been expelled from his lungs.  His was the Great Ahhhhchooooooooooooooooooooo.

It was a frightening sight to behold.

As I was reminded of my spasmodic DNA, I thought I should figure out what’s what with the great achoo.

Sneezing can be caused by many things, including a nasal irritant, an allergic reaction, a symptom of a cold, or a reaction to transitioning from the dark to sunlight.  The latter is called the photic sneeze reflex, or by the backronym Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helioophthalmic Outburst Syndrome, or ACHOO.  Wordsmiths and scientists have a sense of humor, too.

Air leaves your body traveling 100 mph after a sneeze. Cover your mouth, for goodness sakes!

I was saddened to learn that there are collections of recorded celebrity sneezes on the web.  (I mean, really?)  There is historical significance to Fred Ott’s Sneeze, or Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, which is the first copyrighted film, from 1894.  Ott sneezed on cue; you can see this brief publicity film here.  For a different take from Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie, here’s a great video.

Sneezes have been given different meanings by different cultures, some good and some bad.  The practice of saying “Bless you” to a sneezer is recorded as early as 77 AD; the origin of that practice is unclear.  Ever say “Gesundheit?”  That’s German for health.  There was a Papal admonition in the Middle Ages to pray for protection from the Black Plague, and that may have helped foster the modern day practice of saying “God Bless You.”

And in America, of course, having God enter into the equation can lead to controversy, as we saw last year when a NorCal health teacher banned the practice of (and took points away from students) saying “Bless you” when a student sneezed, leading to the ‘net blowing up over the unfairness of it all.  The teacher insisted he was only trying to control his classroom, but the superintendent stepped in and established that students would not be punished for quietly following this social norm.

Bless him.

Posted October 1, 2012 by henrymowry in Living Life

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One response to “The Great Achoo

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  1. Haha, I just got to read this. She definitely has a good sneeze for a baby but time will tell if she has the “Mowry” sneeze lol. For now its cute baby sneezes

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