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a couple of obs around Paris (M)


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It’s been a while since I’ve posted any observations, partly because there has been nothing out of the ordinary to report, but in the last few days I have seen some interesting sneezes, not so much because there is more pollen around – I still haven’t seen anyone who seems to be affected, but simply because I’ve been using public transport more.

The other day I got into a suburban train, settled into a seat, got out my newspaper and started to read; opposite was a man in his very early twenties, possibly a student, and I was just wondering how he sneezed… when he did ! It turned out to be the most standard, single, atchoo sneeze you could imagine. But still, average man, average sneeze, nice to know. Waiting on the suburban station coming back to Paris early that afternoon there was a train which arrived from Paris on the opposite platform, and I watched vaguely as the passengers got off, coming out into the bright sunshine. Inevitably there was a photic sneeze. A man of similar age to the one I had seen sneeze in the morning, but stocky build, quite short, wearing trousers cut off at the calf – as he stepped down from the train he raised his head and gave a single arrassh ! very masculine, though not too loud. Later on, in a bus in Paris I found myself sitting beside a very tall thin African, his long legs spilling out into the corridor, once again in his early twenties, absorbed in reading his paper, wearing very dark sunglasses. We were quite some time sitting reading our papers, when he suddenly sneezed a very wet and completely uncovered : TTTSCCCCHHEEEEUUU, though went on reading as if nothing had happened. I thought that was going to be all, but about half a minute later he had another very wet sneeze, and this time had to wipe his mouth and rub his nose a bit. I was delighted that he was so ininhibited about sneezing to just let fly even sitting next to someone – fortunately ignorant of the effect his sneezes were having. Then in the metro that evening there was a series of various people with unremarkable singles, but one interesting case: a man of what looked like Asian origin, very young, perhaps not 20, small, wearing big sunglasses, sneezed a very childlike ah TSCHh eu. I was some way from him, and not quite sure it was this man who had sneezed, but soon after I saw him warming up for a second, equally childlike sneeze, the same as the first. It took a little longer for the third sneeze to come, but he stifled this completely (why bother, when you have such a small delicate sneeze?) possibly integrating a canon of male behaviour in France – it’s all right to sneeze once or twice, but beyond that you are out of control and should stifle or stop the series… or swear.

Two other slightly more substantial observations yesterday, in the vicinity of two libraries. One was outside a library, and a man wearing the same sort of cut off trousers as I had seen on the photic sneezer of the day before, though this man more slightly built, but about the same age. We had been talking about the library services, when he turned away and sneezed two wet but rather weak sneezes - tchoo, tchoo – he excused himself before I could say anything and had a blow with a Kleenex. In all the sneezes I saw, this was the only one followed by a blow. In another library I was ordering a book when I heard a pair of huge sneezes coming from behind some bookshelves: they weren’t shouted, but just sounded eruptively uncontainable. The librarian raised her eyebrows. Not twenty seconds later there was another pair of massive sneezes from the same direction, so I decided that I would have to go and look for a book behind the shelves; I expected to find several people there and not to know who had sneezed, but in fact there were only two people in the vicinity, one woman and one man at two different desks. The man, also a tall student in his early twenties, possibly of North African origin, was sniffing a bit – but no tissue.

It made me think though how different in power people’s sneezes are : the sneeze reflex seems to vary enormously in strength from one person to another, and though it was a slightly built man with the weak sneezes and a tall, gangly but strong-looking man with the whiplash reaction sneezes, I don’t think this strength is linked to the rest of the physique.

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Oh atchoum, your observations are always such a treat to read! I absolutely loved the African man, and your reaction to him! Marvelous! And also, the Asian man, I have to wonder why after the first two small sneezes, he stifled the third. You would think he'd just stifle all of them, instead of letting two out, right? Very interesting to see so many different sneeze patterns! And of course, I love the photic sneezers very much! Thanks for sharing, and I'm glad you always have such eventful train rides. :D

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Most enjoyable observations! Sneezing strength is indeed an interesting phenomenon . . . sometimes I think it's reflective of personality, more than anything.

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Thanks for the positive feedback. With all you can see now on Youtube etc, you wonder whether second-hand sightings are interesting any more.

For Liricospinto, I rather think that the strength of the sneeze is pretty well completely genetic, depends on how you are wired, and possibly blown up or reduced by personality. And I’m also sure that the size of the body is not as important as is often claimed. Sneesee and I have compared notes on the big men we know who have small sneezes!

Just to finish off, I should mention a couple of sneezes sighted at a café, sitting outside in a pedestrianised street, another very good place for sighting sneezes (makes a mental note to go to outdoor cafés more often!).

The first sneeze was a huge one, which seemed to overwhelm the sneezer. I couldn’t see who was sneezing, as it was quite a distance from where I was sitting. Then there was another sneeze, a much milder one, and I saw it was a man in his thirties, smartly dressed and rather good looking sitting in the very front row. I’m not even 10O% sure it was the same sneezer, as the sneezes sounded so different, but I rather think it was, as he sneezed again, and it was yet another sort of sneeze, again milder than the first. The second and third were more restrained, but not stifled at all. There followed a blow, but was it in a handkerchief or a tissue ? The man got up to leave soon after – he was with his wife/girlfriend and they were talking but too far away for me to hear. I love to know what nationalities sneezers are.

Some time after that the man at the next table to mine bent over and sneezed a pretty dry sneeze – but a completely unrestrained one – on my shoe. This man was probably a bit older than the first and not so handsome, but thin and sexy, French (he was close enough for me to hear all he was saying – but no mention of the sneeze).

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RE: the value of obs . . . perhaps it's because I'm a writer, but personally I find them far more satisfying than random clips on YouTube or elsewhere, because they engage my imagination differently. There's something deliciously doubly-voyeuristic about seeing and hearing a sneeze through someone else's perception filters.

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Wonderful observations as always, atchoum, though I like the 30 to middle aged sneezers best.

I'm with you, I think the strength of the sneexe has very little to do with body build, a lot to do with genetics, and somewhat to do with culture and how a person was raised. I have known some very small guys with enormous, wall shaking sneezes and big bear like men with very disappointing tiny sneezes.

I like hearing and seeing unusual sounding sneezes, especially those that don't end with the typical "choo!" One guy in his 50's I know sneezes strongly in doubles and triples and his sound something like "ahhhhshhwaaay! and very wet.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A late but very appreciative note - I loved all of these obs Atchoum - and the wet uncovered ones by the man sitting right next to you - WOW!

I like reading your obs much more than finding things on YouTube - NO contest!



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RE: the value of obs . . . perhaps it's because I'm a writer, but personally I find them far more satisfying than random clips on YouTube or elsewhere, because they engage my imagination differently. There's something deliciously doubly-voyeuristic about seeing and hearing a sneeze through someone else's perception filters.

I'm agreeing with every word of that (except the being a writer part, I'm more of a non-aspiring-non-writer :) ). Something about your writing style evokes old detective movies for me, it's like it was written in black and white..... I wonder if this making any sense... I'm just picking up smoky shades and an enigmatic tone from it, it's great.

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  • 1 year later...


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