I have seasonal allergies (Yes, yes, not only am I so nerdy it hurts, I also have asthma and allergies. I could not be less cool if I tried.) so spring through fall, I'm hopped up on all kinds of allergy remedies. Occasionally, though, the odd sneeze will sneak on through. Oh, and the sniffling. Don’t forget that. And the post-nasal drip. Yep, and the sinus pressure. Wow. I am so attractive right now. I can see you guys sitting there thinking, "More like post-nasal sexy!" Don't even deny it.
So on to the anecdote! This one is by far the most humiliating sneeze in my life to date.
Scene: Mrs. Jenkins' third-grade class, O. Henry Elementary School, Garland, Texas.
I was the lucky girl in class who got to sit by Brandon. Oh, Brandon was the cutest boy in the whole grade, possibly even the whole universe. And I, little ol’ me, got to sit by him every day.
Never mind that Jason sat on my other side. Yeah, Jason. The chubby kid who picked his nose and smelled like pee. But I didn’t look over Jason’s way. I only had eyes for Brandon. He had blond, curly hair and I thought he was beautiful. And he was the class clown. You know my weakness for a man who can make me laugh. He was everything my eight-year-old self could dream of.
One day during independent work time, I felt that familiar tickle. I turned my head slightly and prepared for a small, ladylike ach-oo. The sneeze came and I realized in horror that by turning my head, I had lined up my nostrils right at Brandon. He yelped loudly as a little bundle of, ahem, sneeze-residue hit him square in the middle of his Sideout t-shirt. He stomped off to the Kleenex box at the front of the room as Mrs. Jenkins yelled, "Sit down, Brandon!"
He hollered back, "Well, I can’t because she sneezed on me!" My face burned with shame.
"She" he called me.
I had no name now. I was just the girl who sneezed on him. I was worse than Jason. At least Jason just played with his own mucus. He didn’t shoot it at innocent people. Especially not at the cutest boy in class.
We were dismissed for recess and I lagged behind, dreading making eye contact with any of my peers. Soon it would be all over the school: Kim Raynor snotted on Brandon Curtis.
The thirty-five minutes of recess were hell as I imagined what would happen when we returned to class. Everyone would be whispering and pointing at me. Mrs. Jenkins would probably make me sit in the back. All alone, so as not to contaminate any more students. She might write a note to my parents asking if they would please talk to me about sneezing on people. What if she thought it was a deliberate attack on a classmate? I might get detention!
The whistle sounded and we filed back into class. I laid my forehead against the coolness of my desk and promised myself I would not cry if Mrs. Jenkins made me get up and apologize to the whole class for causing a disruption like Richard did when he had to say sorry for saying a swear during Spelling the week before.
Mrs. Jenkins cleared her throat at the front of the room. I clamped my eyes shut and waited. "Okay," she began, "We're going to continue with Reading until lunch."
I looked up, confused. No backlash for the girl who sneezes on people? No one stealing furtive looks back at me? I looked at Brandon. He asked what page we were on. He didn’t hate me! I didn’t have to change schools! I’ve never felt relief so complete in my life.
Still looking for a sneezing antidote? Try putting Tabasco-soaked cotton balls in your nostrils. That should clear it up. You’re welcome.