The Sneeze Symposium
It’s finals week, and I have an exam and three huge papers due tomorrow. I have Christmas shopping to do and travel plans to finalize and more of these barely funny, overly confident Fuel blogs to write. Yet the task that’s causing me the most stress is none of the above. I have to track how many times a day I sneeze, and the pressure is killing me.
I don’t know how I find myself in these situations. A few nights ago, I’m walking home from a play with my roommate. He gets a call from his father, and mentions that we’re together. There’s a pause, then I hear my roommate’s half of the following exchange:
“I don’t know…once or twice, I guess…really? Okay, I’ll ask him…hey Christian, how many times a day do you sneeze?”
My parents raised me better than to give that information to just anyone, so I ask some follow up questions. Apparently my roommate’s father (who is semi-retired and has a decent amount of time on his hands), has become concerned that he is sneezing too frequently. He’s been running the numbers, and his tally is coming in at three to five sneezes per day, despite not being ill. And now he is calling all of his friends and relatives to see how their stats compare. After giving me an unsolicited rundown of his extended family’s nasal tendencies, my roommate asked if I would start tracking my sneezes as well.
I mentioned that his father has never met me, and asked why on earth THIS would be the first aspect of my life that interests him. When that didn’t work, I pointed out that even if this asinine experiment had any value, it would be best to keep it a family affair. But they insisted that a large sample size is important, and that they needed some non-relatives to balance things out. Needless to say, they eventually wore me down.
So now, at all hours of the day, I’m carrying this little notebook where I’m supposed to make a tally mark every time I involuntarily expel air from my nostrils. I’m not sick, so I’m not sneezing particularly often, but that somehow makes it worse. When I look at the end of the day and just see one mark, I’m consumed with fear that I forgot to record a few sneezes. And of course there’s the problem of sunshine-induced sneezes (a common problem for blue-eyed folks like myself). Do those count towards the daily tally? They’re technically sneezes, but the cause is purely external. I’m sure great minds could argue for both sides, but I’m not sure we have one great mind, let alone two, working on this project. So it’s stressful, to put it mildly. As much as I would have liked to avoid involving myself in something so stupid, I really don’t want to be remembered as the guy who screwed this up.
I only have to do this until Friday, then I’ll calculate my average and my roommate’s father will put it in some kind of spreadsheet. What anyone is going to do with this information is beyond me, but nobody can ever accuse me of being a bad friend.
Be sure to tune in next Tuesday to find out how often Christian Zilko sneezes a day, on average. Will it be once? Or will it be twice??? How’s that for a cliffhanger?