Sunshine and Sneezes

You can’t beat a good sneeze. Especially now that the pollen season is upon us, which sees me doing it quite a bit. However, when it comes to sneezing, I have a superpower.

I am cursed / blessed with a photic sneeze reflex. Which means that when I emerge from an interior space to a brightly sunlit exterior space, I will sneeze. Violently. Usually twice. It also means that if I feel the tingle of a sneeze that doesn’t quite want to arrive, I can shove my face into a lamp and bring the sneeze on. Very handy.

For years I thought this applied to everybody and was quite surprised when I found out  it didn’t. Some mere mortals, apparently, only get to sneeze when the sneeze is good and ready. There are theories about why the photic sneeze reflex works, to do with nerves in the brain and such. Even Aristotle noticed it, when he wasn’t busy incorrectly counting women’s teeth. But work it does, and when it comes to sneezing, I’m no slouch.

genes-for-achoo-syndrom-sun-sneezingI like my sneezing so much that I am amazed by the number of people who block their sneezes. They clamp their noses, sending the sneeze booming around the insides of their skull, in a way that sounds physically painful. I’ve always wondered – why on earth would anybody do that. Is it a fear of contaminating others? A terror of seeing snot and spittle? Or a religious conviction that sneezing is too much like sex? Fuck knows, but lots and lots of people do it, in my workplace as well as in the great wide world in general.

If anybody knows why people do this, please share it. Because I fully expect to one day be a witness to a head boinging off, or an eye popping out and dangling from its fleshy wire.

In Sweden, by the way, you say “Benny!” when someone in your vicinity sneezes. The proper response to that is to yell “Björn!” and then go put on spangly trousers.

/ paddy

Solar Sneezing

I thought everybody sneezed in bright sunlight. Really, I did, and it took me a few years and more than a few sideward glances to discover that it was an anomaly shared by me and only a quarter of the human race.

Here’s how it works. I walk out into bright sunlight and I feel an urge to sneeze coming on. I lift my face to the sun and sneeze twice. Sometimes I sneeze a couple of more times after a few minutes. It almost never fails.

I can also use this trick to force a sneeze. If I feel one coming, and want the bugger to hurry up, I can stick my face up to a bright light and get it quickly over with.

Apparently this reflex is caused by a short-circuit in the brain, where nerves excite each other due to their physical proximity. It is called “photic sneeze reflex”  which I think you will agree is an excellent name for an experimental electronic band.

It’s a condition that has been sparsely studied, since it’s pretty much harmless. However all researchers can agree on one thing – that this odd genetic condition, as a rule, is connected with vastly improved sexual stamina and prowess (and hunkiness in general).

Just so you know.

/ paddy