Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bless You!

As dedicated social scientists, Christian and I are always analyzing, scrutinizing and martinizing our own cultural practices, so as to avoid any notions of cultural bias in our reporting.

One practice we--or at least I--am firm on in terms of its universality is that act of blessing people after sneezing. It is good and proper to bless one who sneezes, and those who don’t are just rude, plain and simple.


What do you say, Christian? You agree with me 100%, right?

Christian: I couldn’t disagree with you any more. Or any less if less is more. Pat, we live in modern times. The original purpose of saying “bless you” was probably because people used to think that Satan was stealing their soul through their noses or something, but we know better now.

We live in an age where super-telephones and exciting advancements in cereal are common place. Why should we hold onto these archaic pointless customs?

Pat:  Yeah, but now with no Pope*, who’s gonna’ do the blessing? Huh?

And besides--trust me, I’ve thought A LOT on this one--who doesn’t like a blessing? I’m not organized religiously one bit, but even I won’t turn down a free blessing. Mormon blessing? Thank you, sister-wives! Jewish blessing? L’Chaim! Buddhist blessing? Om mani padme hum, friend-o! Sikh blessing? Gracias, and watch that saber, yo!

So much better than a silent, lonely wipe on the sleeve, no?

Christian: Yeah but what about the other side of it? You seem to enjoy receiving blessings but how about giving them out? That’s the part of it that I dislike the most. I don’t like feeling obligated to have to say bless you to every Tom, Dick, and Beatrice anytime they sneeze.

Especially those multiple sneezes people. You know the type. The ones that if they sneeze it’s always followed with two or three more seconds later. Those people are obviously starved for attention.  Am I supposed to say bless you for each sneeze? I’ve got TV to watch and couches to nap on. Who has time to give all those blessings? I’m not an ordained minister people.

Pat:  Oh, well, I am. Ordained. As a minister...and other things, but that’s a different issue. Ordained and officiant of many weddings, in fact, including my sister-in-law and mother-in-law. They didn’t marry each other. I don’t think you can do that. Can you?

So, no...those multiple sneezers only get one from me. But, unlike you, I kinda’ like blessing people. It’s fun to take a break in the middle of a conversation and--“bless you”--make sure someone stays pure and holy. And I love those opportunities to surprise a fellow shopper in the store by tracking them down and blessing them. I’ve even crossed over a whole three aisles just to offer a blessing. All the way from frozen goods to health and beauty products. I think the soap caused it.

Christian: So is it the idea of actually “blessing” someone you like or do you just like acknowledging that someone sneezed? Because that’s basically all you are doing.

How about instead of saying “bless you”, you say “Hey nice sneeze!”. Or “I heard that”. Because that is all that is being accomplished by saying “bless you”.

Pat:  Hmm...I’m not sure. That’s a good one. You’ve kind of got me stumped. Because I’ve been known to bless people not just for sneezes, but for yawns, burps, hiccups...even heavy sighs.

Huh. I think maybe I secretly want to be a priest. Shit. That’s not going to work, what with me being married and all.

Christian: Priests can’t get married?

Pat:  I’m not sure, but I think my Catholic friends and family have told me that at the moment, priests can only marry god. So...in that sense, god is kinda’ like the Bill Paxton character on “Big Love”, only without the three houses and all those kids.


Hey! That’s either an AWESOME analogy or I’m going straight to hell. Hopefully the former.

Christian: Don’t worry, I don’t think that will have any affect on you going to hell.

So let me ask you this; If you were a priest and could “officially” perform blessings for traditional blessing reasons, like conducting exorcisms or the launching of new boat, do you think you would still feel the need to bless people when they sneeze?

Pat:  Yep, and maybe even more so. Know why? ‘Cause it’s often the little things that go unnoticed and mean the most! (Hey--I’ve been thinking about supplementing our blog-income by submitting cliché sayings to Hallmark™ for use on their greeting cards. What did you think of that last one?)

Christian: Blog income?


*at the time this post was written, no one had a CLUE who Francis was. Not even the Argentinians, ‘cause that wasn’t his name there.

46 comments:

  1. Christian and Pat,

    I love this post. You brought up something I have always wondered about but that I thought I semi-understood before, and then managed to confuse me to a completely new level (which, I believe, is the whole point of your blog).

    As a general policy, I always bless myself after sneezing, just to make it easy on everyone.

    I also bless myself after biking, planning weddings, driving to the airport, having recurring shoe dreams about James Spader, going to the zoo, or taking photos with my brother on vacation. Basically, once I do anything, I am gonna bless about it, either right away or definitely in the next few days.

    Oh, wait, did I write "bless"? I meant "blog." Same thing, right?

    xxo
    MOV

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    1. I have no problems with people blessing/blogging themselves.

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  2. I'm not a "bless you" type of guy, so I hate when people sneeze and then stare at you, waiting for you to say it. Also, the people who sneeze like 6 times in a row just need to cut that shit out. You don't need a blessing. You need an allergist.

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    1. Yeah if sneeze more than three times in a row you shouldn't be allowed in society.

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    2. So judgmental, people. I assure you that I expect only a single blessing regardless the number of sneezes. I am not a greedy person. I do ask that you wait until after the final sneeze, though. I think that's really the only civil thing to do.

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  3. Ya goof.

    I am not a "bless you" kinda gal. Didn't grow up with it, and it's a hard habit to start.

    Pearl

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    1. Bless you Pearl. Damnit! I mean I'm happy you are on my side.

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    2. Good god, Pearl, where did you grow up? And do they have heathens there?

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  4. I say more of a "Bleshou." It means "stop that racket" in Chizanese. I usually give them two "bleshous" before calling them a greedy attention-whore.

    Honestly, I find it a pain when someone blesses me because then I have to thank them afterward. What a hassle. Who has time for that?

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    1. Exactly. Maybe if everyone stopped blessing everyone else when they sneezed we could get some work done around here. No wonder the economy is in the tank.

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    2. At first I thought "Chizanese" was a questionably offensive reference to an Asian processed cheese spread...but then I figured it out (I think).

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  5. This struck a chord as I got into an argument with a coworker after I said gassundheit (sp?) And was instructed that "people around these parts say bless you." Am I supposed to say it after each sneeze or can u wait until the series of sneezes comes to a close and offer a catch-all single blessing? Fight the silliness.

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    1. Around these parts? They must have been German haters*.

      * Assuming gassundheit is a German word.

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    2. I reply with a swift "Fu-Kyoo" to anyone who says "...'round these parts we...".

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  6. During the bubonic plague, so many people were infected that sneezing was considered to be a good sign that you had it. Having the plague was essentially a death sentence, so people would bless each other as a matter of course. Over time, the average sneeze is no longer the early calling card of certain death, yet people still bless each other.

    Essentially, when you bless someone you're saying "hope you don't die!". It seems a little over the top, but the sentiment is still there.

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    1. Wait a sec. This comment might be teaching me things. That's not what we do around here, Addman.

      However, that is very interesting and makes sense. I'm going to start saying "hope you don't die" instead of bless you and see how that goes.

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    2. Yeah, man. Darn close to actual knowledge, there, Addman. Easy, buddy, okay?

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  7. In my house, we don't say bless you. We shout bukkake at each other.

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    1. I didn't know what bukkake is, but I really wish I hadn't just googled it.

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  8. If someone sneezes I say "Gesundheit" which means health in German, we don't bless people we sarcasticly which them health. You are welcome to use it!

    In Russian they say будьте здоровы!(boot starowja...you could pronounce it that way) which means good luck, when someone sneezes.

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  9. It's not so much saying Bless you that I'm object to. It's more that I have to talk to this person who is expelling germs all over the place.

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  10. Huh, I've never really thought about this before. I always just blindly said 'bless you' when someone sneezed, because that's what I was supposed to do I thought. Well, darn it, I'm not sayin it anymore! I'm going to say, 'you know, you could say excuse me!' and then when people fart, I'm going to say 'bless you.' Or maybe I'll say 'bless me' since I'm the one who has to deal with their stench. This is gonna be great!

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    1. Eww...don't let ANYTHING be a taste in your mouth immediately following a sneeze or fart.

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  11. I say "bless you" to a sneezer the 1st and 2nd time (I sneeze in pairs, so I don't mind a couple of prayers sent to me in a matter of ten seconds). For sneeze #3-8, I don't say anything, but as the number progresses, I start giving them a look. On sneeze #9 I might suggest they get a mask. By sneeze #12, I'm calling the US Health Department to get this Typhoid Murray his own hazmat suit.

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  12. I never say bless you when someone sneezes. I always feel uncomfortable doing it without Papal approval.

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    1. Excellent point. I'm not going to pretend to be a surgeon when a friend needs a triple bypass so why do we pretend to be priests when someone sneezes?

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  13. My husband is one of those attention-seeking multiple sneezers. (He has other good qualities.) When he starts in, I give him a blanket gesundheit. (Not a euphemism.)

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    1. Is it a quilted blanket? Fleece? Wool? How often do you have to wash it?

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  14. I always sneeze uncontrollably before sex. But that may be because I learn towards busty librarians named Beatrice, who - incidentally, beat a lonely wipe on the sleeve ;)

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    1. I guess that's better than sneezing uncontrollably during sex.

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    2. That put a gedanken in my head: how many muscles would be in use simultaneously if you sneezed at the moment of orgasm. I bet you'd combust.

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  15. I scream "DON'T GET ANY GERMS ON ME!" and people don't seem to like it so I'm assuming they would feel the same way about blessings.

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  16. It's automatic reaction with me. I say, "God bless you" -- must be my super awesomely religious background. But I think it is outdated and random. Of course, if we don't a blessing to a sneeze, then when do we get to bless them? Whenever? You see how many people would be begging for blessings if we didn't put some boundary on it like a sneeze?

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    1. Excellent point. I do prefer having to give less blessings than more.

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    2. Thank you Julie. You can move into my neighborhood any time you like. My sneezes and I are waiting.

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  17. My husband sneezes SO loudly I mostly just stay "Are you fucking kidding me?" (I curse a lot at home)

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  18. I appreciate that you found a way to work in a reference to Big Love, the guaranteed jaw-dropper of true social scientists that it is.

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  19. In my family, we never said "bless you" after someone sneezed. We didn't really acknowledge sneezes. When I moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, land of a church and a bar on every corner, and started attending an all-women's Catholic college, I soon realized I was the only jerk not saying "bless you" to sneezers. I resented the pressure to conform, but eventually found myself saying it despite my belief that it's a silly tradition. Now I almost always say it, except for when Sol sneezes, because his sneezes are so loud and violent and he always sneezes two or three times in a row. By the time he's done, I usually say/shout, "Jeez! Are you okay? That was crazy!"

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