It was Friday night and I had been at it for almost six minutes. “At your age, I’m not sure your heart can take this,” said my wife. Then to show how concerned she was, Mary Ellen burst out laughing.
Achoo! If I had known it was this easy to get such an appreciative response, I’d have sneezed 35 times in a row a lot earlier in our marriage. Here I am, every week, trying to write this column and the most I hope for is a smile and an approving nod. With any luck, I’ll then be granted a solid B for my endeavors. But my persistent sternutation (that’s sneezing) was, for some reason, a source of great merriment, far outweighing my fall last week down a full flight of stairs while I was vacuuming. In fairness to my wife, before the guffawing there is a brief span of time while she confirms I have not broken my spine or suffered a head trauma. Then let the fun begin.
As a student of slapstick comedy, I’d say a vacuum cleaner with a long hose is an excellent prop to accompany a pratfall, especially if you are backing up at the time and you then pinwheel down the steps. FYI: The more 360s you do, the better, and be sure to land squarely on your butt — especially if you are also looking to bring sheer joy into the life of your significant other.
Achoo! (Number 36), although in all honesty this is just an estimate, because you don’t start counting sneezes until you realize it may be the beginning of a historic run, and then it may be too late to get an accurate count. I don’t feel this way about hiccups, where I begin a careful tally from the very first one, hoping to break an old record of 52 set in college in 1968 when I hiccupped through my entire American Poetry final.