Why is it that when somebody sneezes, we feel obligated to soothe them with words
like, "Bless You,” “Bleshoo,” or serenade them with a German, “gesundheit.”
Do you know what gesundheit means? Did you even realize it was German? For those
that don’t know, gesundheit literally means “health.” A person who says gesundheit
is allegedly wishing you good health. Probably unknowingly. They probably just heard
their grandparents say that to them when they were a kid and it stuck.
I know the legends about the origins of blessing a sneezer, none of which are known
to be 100% accurate. My question is why do you, specifically, bless a sneezer? Politeness?
Habit? Are you truly blessing them every time they sneeze? Why only when they sneeze?
You don’t bless people or wish them good health when they cough. You certainly don’t
bless them when they fart, burp, or puke. Why is sneezing so different? Why is it
considered rude when we don’t habitually utter some nonsensical blessing after somebody
Most of all: why bleshoo? I suppose blesh means the same thing as bless. Why the sh?
You don’t presh a button. Your mom doesn’t wear a dresh. Why pay more when you can
PayLesh? In WarGames, Joshua didn’t ask Matthew Broderick if would rather play a
good game of chesh instead of nuking the world. Can you guesh what I’m getting at?
Our polite culture is stupid.
Why don’t I blesh those who sneeze around me? Because I’m not a mean person. That’s
right; I don’t blesh because I am being thoughtful. My theory is that, outwardly,
we are reflexively offering blessings and well wishes. Deep inside, however, we
are mocking the sneezer’s weakness at succumbing to such a meek illness. Our bleshings
are actually something much more sinister. We are degenerating to our base, survival
of the fittest instincts and saying, “Puny human! Look at me! I’m healthy and you
are not! I take my vitamins to be strong and fit to reproduce.” And the blesher
actually expects a “thank you” in return?
When you sneeze, you kind of say, “Achoo,” although I’ve heard some strange variations
such as “Ah-di-di-chuh!” I used to love that sneeze. My kingdom to hear it once
more. Let’s assume, however, that most sneezes are some minor derivation of “Achoo!”
“Bless You” sounds sort of like a sneeze. “Bleshoo” comes even closer to mimicking
sound of “Achoo.” Not coincidently, sneezing is the only time we are ever compelled
to replace “Bless” with “Blesh.” Therefore, by bleshing a poor, unfortunate sneezer,
you are making a mockery of them. You are practically laughing in their face. Yet,
we are somehow being inconsiderate when we do not offer bleshings.
What’s even worse is when some smartass matches the tone and loudness of a sneeze
in their bleshings. You’ve heard these people. You let out an average, moderated,
“Achoo!” Just enough to loosen things up so that you can clear out your sinuses
with a follow-up sneeze. Joe Assmunch then mocks you with his average, moderated,
“Bleshoo!” You follow-up with a slightly louder, more forceful, “Achoo” to make
sure all the crap up your nose has moved on out. Joe Assmunch again mocks you with
a slightly louder, more forceful, “Bleshoo!” Or Joe Assmunch may even try to match
your sneeze with a quick, “Gahbleshoo.” I’ve even heard people give out a, “Blashoo,” which is just outright spitting in your face. Don’t you realize you are being
mocked? After you sneeze, they might as well kick you in the nuts, call you a “Bitch,”
give you the double-fingered bird, and then walk away fist-bumping all the confused,
yet highly entertained, onlookers.
So, when you sneeze and I don’t say “Blesh You,” appreciate the effort I am giving
to ignore you. I am making a conscious effort to not reflexively laugh in your face.
I am not conforming to our primal instinct of preying on the weak. Instead, my silence
simply means that I kinda like you.
Just be forwarned: if I ever say “geshundheit” after you sneeze, that’s my little
German codeword for, “I hate your guts and hope your next sneeze causes your brain
to explode into mush and leak out of every orifice in your head. Wimp.”
This, by the way, may just happen to you quiet sneezers who plug your nose and let
out a little “tchnnnn” noise. It looks so painful that it hurts me just to watch
it happen. Their eyes water so much, I sometimes wonder if those are really tears
or if the snot somehow found another way out. Hey, it’s ok to sneeze. It happens
for a reason. Just let it fly, son. Let it fly.