Tag Archives | manners

How to Keep Demons From Crawling Up Your Nose After a Sneeze – Why the Blessings?

Sneeze2I find traditions and customs especially annoying when we do them “because we’ve always done them.” So let the snot fly. I’m not necessarily talking about the sneeze but the exchange that follows booger blow in the company of others. Why the hell am I blessing you? Am I really qualified to conduct said blessing? And if you’re not a member of an organized faith, why are you responding in German?

I pursued this knowledge like a true historian: I Googled it on my phone.

Wikipedia says that “… the custom originally began as an actual blessing. Gregory I became Pope in AD 590 as an outbreak of the bubonic plague was reaching Rome. In hopes of fighting off the disease, he ordered unending prayer and parades of chanters through the streets. At the time, sneezing was thought to be an early symptom of the plague. The blessing (‘God bless you!’) became a common effort to halt the disease.” Or another possible explanation is that “…a person’s soul could be thrown from their body when they sneezed, that sneezing otherwise opened the body to invasion by the Devil, or that sneezing was the body’s effort to force out an invading evil presence.” And yet “…another legend holds that the heart stops beating during a sneeze, and that the phrase ‘bless you’ encourages the heart to continue beating.”

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As the Rudes Get Ruder, the Scolds Get Scoldier

Does this story belong in “the paper of record” (for those who forgot, that was the New York Times once upon a time)? It’s hardly news, but now that very few people wait for a printed newspaper to learn what’s happening in their world, perhaps this is the type of story we should expect from the dino-media:

Amy Alkon, a syndicated advice columnist and self-described “manners psycho,” certainly thinks so. Just ask “Barry,” a loud cellphone talker she encountered recently at a Starbucks in Santa Monica, Calif.

“He just blatantly took over the whole place with his conversation, streaming his dull life into everybody’s brain,” Ms. Alkon recalled in a telephone interview.

Among the personal details Barry shared that day — errands to run, plans for the evening — was his phone number, which Ms. Alkon jotted down.

“I called him that night and said, ‘Just calling to let you know, Barry, that if you’d like your private life to remain private, you might want to be a little more considerate next time,’ “ she said.

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