In the before time, the time when my body still worked for a living, I noticed the seasons come and go, but never really noticed them because my mind was always on work. But now, the pace has slowed, and I see springtime is always the best time of the year. It transitions us from the doldrums of winter and bridges the gap to those hot days of summer. Springtime brings forth color, again. Technically, winter is a color—white—but who cares. It is spring that brings back the color in our lives. It also brings flowers, brisk bright days, long walks along the lane, and unfortunately, sneezing.
Some suffer from allergies, a good medical excused for letting the honker out and blasting forth with a wet, long acting, achoo. But, unlike many working folks who can claim any number of legitimate springtime maladies, from office atmosphere to their boss’ cologne, I suffer from springtime itself—sunshine.
I have found that in many folks (ok some), the nerves from the nose and the eye (the sunshine pathway into our brains) lay right next to each other. Therefore, a dose of bright light can jump the signal from the eyes to the nose, triggering a sneeze. The brighter the light, and the quicker the dark-to-light transfer, the bigger the sneeze. It makes scientific sense to me, as an engineer. However, I seem to have an additional sneeze trigger that few, if any, share. My wife says she has never heard of this and that I am just weird. You be the judge.
Sunshine, on part of my body, but not all of it, provides a chill path along the light-dark border and I “let her rip.” I wait months, through the long grey days and dreary skies of winter, to be ready for that first bright ball of illumination that heralds the coming of spring, only to be cast into disgrace as the first rays send forth a temperature-change ahchoo that is like the crack of doom to all those around me.
I am ashamed to admit that I am not allowed to stand outside Bob Evans Restaurant anymore on Sunday morning because of my crowd splitting eruptions. It’s not my fault. They just occurs when I emerge from the dark warmth inside—the taste of a good breakfast still on my lips—and step, innocently, out into that glorious sunshine that is only available in early spring.
One Sunday I eased out, keeping to the shadows, so as not to cause a temperature differential across my body. But the warmth of the day brought my face out and up to admire the the sun and it happened, anyway—ah, ah, ahchooooo!
I did it with such force that the crowd awaiting their reservations immediately split and put a huge gap between me and them. One little old lady excitedly turned toward the source of my expulsion and accidentally jabbed a neighbouring guy in the leg with her cane. He winched and drew back to punch whomever abused his shin. His recoiling arm knocked a lit cigarette backwards into another guy’s mouth. The lit end went in quickly but popped back out faster, like a cork from an overcharged champaign bottle. It flew across the sidewalk into a passing car. Meanwhile, cigarette man began flailed wildly, and danced around, trying to cool his burnt lips. It caused causing more murmurings and anxiety in the crowd.
The passing driver swerved madly, trying to find the hot ember, and unintentionally turned in the direction of the crowd—causing other extreme gyrations and screams of panic.
Luckily no one was seriously hurt, or so they tell me, because by then my wife had dragged my off to our van—to save the family name—and we were gone before the full domino effect ceased.
I thought we were clear of the incident, but I got a letter later that week addressed to “The Sneezer” at my address asking me to share my business elsewhere on Sundays.
I thought they were kidding, but the waitresses do seem to glare at me every time we go there now, and a pair of loaner sunglasses are always on the table.