You probably already know — maybe not in so many words — that a sneeze is a “semi-autonomous, convulsive expulsion of air from the lungs through the nose and mouth, usually caused by foreign particles irritating the nasal mucosa.” Well, that’s Wikipedia’s definition anyway.
I’ll tell you what irritates my nasal musosa: Is it just me, or do all women suffer menfolk who have disgusting habits?
Not long ago husband Peter and I had bad colds with deep choking coughs that lingered on and on like guests who stay past bedtime — one more sneeze, another funny story, a couple more bone rattling coughs, kiss miss hug ugh — will they never go?
I doctored myself with aspirin, Clementines, and tea, but the tickle turned into a scratch, followed by a bark, then volcanic explosive sneezes. Full. Blown. Cold. Aching, itching, coughing, Nyquil moments, although no Nyquil passed my lips.
Peter’s symptoms started a few days after mine. But would he eat a Clementine, take a spoonful of yummy orange-flavored cough syrup, or swallow an aspirin? No-o. He is English though, so he willingly drinks tea. Lots of tea. At least six cups a day when he’s well, eight or ten cups when he’s under the weather. Plus, he’s very good at resting and doing nothing. Excellent, in fact.
Meanwhile, I dragged myself through daily chores — opened cans of soup, kept the teapot topped up, changed sheets and towels, disposed of used tissues. As soon as I was sure I would live, I returned to my routine which, by then, included piles of laundry. Sorting. Washing. Drying. Sorting again. Folding. And folding.
In my husband’s pile there was one shirt, two pair of knickers, and thirty-two (32!) handkerchiefs. (Peter will not use tissues which I argue are more sanitary, but that’s a battle I’ll never win.)
So that many hankies I could understand, but why, for the same period, did he wear only two pair of skivies and one shirt? The man showered every day, yet didn’t change his underwear? I checked to make sure his drawer was full of “drawers.” It was, all in good condition too, a surprise in itself.
Are all men like this or just my man?
Now I have a lot of handkerchiefs, delicate, lacy, embroidered ones, but would I desecrate them by using them when I have a cold! Heavens, no! I always carry one in my purse in case I happen to swoon and need to dab my forehead daintily. Or I make curtains with them. Yes, I do.
I use tissues for colds, sweat and tears.
My mother never allowed a box of Kleenex to cross her threshold. “Wasteful,” she said. “You have perfectly good hankies to use, Judy,” she’d say. “You can blot your lipstick on a square of toilet paper, one square, mind you.” I still do the latter, but tissues, especially the aloe-impregnated ones, are my friends when I have a cold. I’m sure I went through at least two 124-count boxes of “Dematologist tested” Puffs during my illness.
At a recent luncheon, friend Nancy said she’d looked everywhere for men’s handkerchiefs. Finally she asked a clerk at J.C. Penney’s where they were. The young woman was blank, so Nancy described a white sixteen-inch cotton square with rolled edges. The woman said, “I’m sorry, but I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
She probably uses the crook of her elbow when she sneezes. Call me old-fashioned, but I think a well-placed tissue to encapsulate those millions of germs, followed by well-washed hands is more effective, and certainly more ladylike.