Thursday, October 29, 2009


It being panic (sorry – flu) season and all, it’s refreshing to see people changing their hygiene habits.

Because of recent outbreaks of Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Halitosis, Dog Mange and Tendonitis, what we are now encouraged to do by health authorities is to sneeze into our elbows instead of our hands.

In the past, we were always told to “Cover your mouth!” when sneezing or coughing. Being lazy cretins, we as a population (well, guys mainly) would usually just hold our hand up in the general region of our disgusting, germ-laden snouts and let fly, resulting in containment of a good 10% of the virus-laden spray.

Even allowing for prevailing wind conditions, this lack of germ control resulted in the spread of many contagions, including bubonic plague, polio, teen pregnancy, ptomaine, botulism, syphilis, weevils, and the Liberal Party (Democrats in the 'States).

I find this a welcome change in that we are now able to SEE if people have sneezed by observing the hideous, dried material on the inside of their arms. Instead of launching ourselves on a delightful voyage of germ discovery by shaking their just-sneezed-into hands, we can just check out the inside crease of their jacket, shirt, or bathrobe.

It saddens me, though, to think that the pastime of watching men sneeze in public will become less entertaining.

Since men are not like grandmothers, whose sleeves bulge with enormous wads of facial tissue, and since men no longer carry boog-laden hankies around with them (thank goodness), they are very amusing to observe.

What men usually do is sneeze into their hand, surreptitiously glance down to confirm their suspicion that something did indeed land there, then try to camouflage that fact by wandering around, trying to look normal, all the while attempting to figure out when and where to wipe the splat from their (now) webbed fingers.

For some reason they don’t want the world to think they expelled anything and so they hide the cooling, solidifying excreta now in their (external) possession, despite witnesses knowing exactly what happened.

Men can spend extraordinary lengths of time acting nonchalant, gently cradling their ‘package’ before actually breaking down and smearing their hand on their pants, drapes, couch cushions, or their friend, whose shoulders they have just warmly embraced.

Automobiles and computer apparatus should also welcome this new sneezing protocol. Steering wheels, speedometers, computer monitors, keyboards – all have been recipients of airborne mucus impacts. Now it’s clothing’s turn.

With this new sneeze regimen, gone will be the annoyance of losing track of one’s phlegm. Knowing it emerged because you felt it hurtle past your teeth, but not being able to actually find it anywhere, can be disconcerting to a sneezer. Since your eyes close during the act, and the ‘material’ is supersonic when departing, having to engage a six-man search party to examine every square foot of carpet prior to party guests arriving will no longer be necessary.

Employing the In Your Elbow technique, you now know where your nose and throat secretions are - right there, in the crook of your arm, stretching from bicep to forearm in a disgusting yet fascinating web display that would make Spiderman proud.

It is advances such as these in the public health arena that make our lives so much better than in the past, and I'm sure you'll thank me for having brought to mind this important health initiative.

Enjoy your meal.

Elbows off the table please.

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