Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Dear Mr. Debonair,

What is the proper course of action when one has sneezed, causing the expulsion of a great big Wad o’ Boogage?

A Proper Canajan Lady

Dear Lady,

The issue of how to deal with Nasal Mucus has, alas, been with us humans since before the Dawn of Time. And, sadly, many of our fellow humans continue to treat the matter in much the same way our Troglodytic Ancestors must have done.

The proper course of action is, when a sneeze is coming on, to cover one’s mouth and nose with a Pocket Handkerchief, preventing the potential escape of Unpleasant Substances. If one does not carry a Pocket Handkerchief - an unfortunate possibility in these Culturally Degenerate Times - then one may use a Facial Tissue.

Under no circumstances may one use a Restaurant Napkin. Mr. Debonair, in fact, has observed, on rare occasions, people indulging in the evil practice of blowing their noses in restaurant napkins. This is unspeakable. (Were I a waiter in a restaurant and I saw someone doing this, why, I would feel absolutely no compunction about adulterating that patron’s food with Vile Materials, the identity of which is best left unsaid in a Family-Friendly Weblog.)

When caught unawares by the Sneezing Impulse, it is acceptable practice to direct the sneeze into the crook of one’s arm rather than covering the mouth and nose with one’s bare hand. This is, in fact, preferable from a disease transmission standpoint.

If nasal mucus is expelled in the course of sneezing, it is completely unacceptable to (1) consume the mucus, or (2) to attempt to manually reinsert it in the nares. The first alternative is revolting; the second is not only revolting, but also completely ridiculous.

If one is off by oneself and feels the need to clear the nostrils, the ancient practice of using the “Farmer’s Handkerchief” (AKA the “Bowery Blow”) - closing one nostril with a finger while forcibly expelling air (and other materials) from the other nostril directly onto the ground - may be tempting. Resist the impulse to revert to behavior more suited to the cave-dwellers of prehistory! Are we not men?

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