Bless You or Cough-It-Easy?

Let’s pretend you just coughed.

Whether or not you believe me, I have been around this situation many times in my life so far. The situation where I’m sitting near someone and they, yes you guesed it… coughed. I usually turn to people who have just coughed and I say to them, “Bless you.” And they usually turn to me and (get this) say, “Thank you.”


I usually then stop them and say, “Um, did you even just sneeze just then?” to which they usually reply, “No, I coughed actually…” to which I say, “So, you coughed and when I offered up my blessings to you, you just took them even though you never sneezed in the first place?”

“Yes, I did.”

So wrong. Totally completely wrong. If you’re one of those people who do those hybrid cough/sneeze things that make people think you sneezed and then you’re blessed by other people who think you sneezed and then you say thank you without actually pointing out to everyone that in fact, you didn’t sneeze at all but it was really a cough — you are destroying the Middle Age tradition, rooted in religion, to rid your body of the spirits that initally caused that sneeze to come out.

You are a fake.

I have started to see this practice increase over time and I have now figured out a sure-fire way to guard against giving away free blessings to fake-sneezers. It goes something like this:

Scenario #1: Someone sneezes.

Me: Did you just sneeze?

Them: Yes, I did. Why?

Me: Oh. Nothing. Bless you, by the way.

Them: Oh! Thank you.

See how rewarding it is when everyone’s honest about their body’s expelling of mucus? But how do you handle the same situation when it’s, in reality, a cough-like cough/sneeze?

Scenario #2: Someone coughs.

Me: Did you just sneeze?

Them: No. I coughed.

Me: Well, cough-it-easy, then.

Them: Cough it easy?

Me: Yeah, it’s like ‘bless you’ for a sneeze… but it’s for a cough.

Them: Oh.

See? Subtle, but it is the perfect solution in (a) determining the type of body reaction and (b) reacting appropriately. Now, you’ll never have to give away your valuable ‘bless you’ blessings to those freaky hybrid cough/sneezers who are going around this world snaking up your blessings for quirky sounding coughs.

No need to thank me. That’s what I’m here for.

22 comments on “Bless You or Cough-It-Easy?

  1. monkeyinabox - June 10, 2004 at 8:58 am -

    Be careful with your blessings or your turn into a religious fanatic overnight. Ha.

    That’s what happen to me.

  2. steve - June 10, 2004 at 9:10 am -

    While I’ve never been bothered by the fake-out, I too have often wished for a cough equivalent of the “God Bless You.”

  3. Pauly D - June 10, 2004 at 9:13 am -

    Exactly, Steve.

    So now you have the equivalent of “God Bless You” for coughs. “COUGH-IT-EASY!”

    If we all start using it in a grass-roots sort of way, things will change across this great coughing country of ours.

  4. Will - June 10, 2004 at 9:26 am -

    That’s strange; I always thought that people said “God Bless You” because when you sneeze your heart skips a beat. Therefore, people use that phrase in hopes that you won’t die.

    Well, you learn something new every day, I suppose.

  5. Bob - June 10, 2004 at 9:52 am -

    You know what I can’t stand? People coughing into their hands. They’ll make that loose fist with their hand, and then cough into it, because they’ve been brainwashed by parents that this is considerate to the people around them. It is??? How can coughing into your hand be hygenic? I see this all the time in stores and restaurants. Clerks will cough into their hands before handling my food or giving me my change or shaking hands.

  6. Kathleen - June 10, 2004 at 10:24 am -

    Regarding food clerks, I get confused by the Subway worker wearing the plastic gloves and coughing, sneezing, etc. with the plastic gloves on, then going back to making the sub. Hmm. That’s when my David Spade look appears.

  7. Tito - June 10, 2004 at 10:29 am -

    It’s actually more courteous to cough into your arm when you are working in a place that you touch the customers product. Can we do something to educate the working class of this? Just a suggestion Pauly.

    And what about the hybrid Sneeze/Farters? You know, they’re usually riding the bus, sitting too close to you, asking you if the bus stops where they need to get off, and then they sneeze and fart at the same time. What do you say to them?

  8. Andrea - June 10, 2004 at 11:43 am -

    Okay, now, being a veterinary medicine student, I know that coughing or sneezing, either one, is due to the some part of the upper respiratory system getting irritated. No matter what the irritation is, you’re ridding yourself of “evil spirits” by either coughing or sneezing. So, sorry, PD, but I think it’s great to spread around the “bless yous.” I certainly say it for both.

  9. Kate - June 10, 2004 at 4:03 pm -

    I agree with Tito….Back when I was a youngun (heh) I would cough into my arm or what not so I would minimize the amount of germ sprayage that is coming forth from my body. If you cough into your hands then carry around one of those hand disinfector wash

  10. Will - June 10, 2004 at 7:17 pm -

    Well, Bob, I guess it’s a matter of whether you want those germs on someone else’s hands or all over your face.

    I, myself, find it best to cough inside my shirt if I’m wearing a stretchy collar.

  11. Jennifer - June 15, 2004 at 7:20 pm -

    I’ve taken an altogether differct tactic. I walk around offering up ‘bless yous’ and ‘gesundheits’ to all those making any indiscriminate noises whatsoever in my presence. Including mumbles, indecipherable (and therefore incomprehensible) English, and assorted odd bodily sounds included. ‘Cause there are lots more of those than one might think . It’s just easier that way, I’ve found.

  12. Kathleen - October 8, 2004 at 1:17 pm -

    Regarding my earlier comment, I saw David Spade on Jay Leno, and he spoke about his doctor visit, saying the doctor put his Subway sandwich glove on.

    I thought it was a little funny.

  13. Anish - March 15, 2005 at 11:53 pm -

    And I thought I had too much time on my hands 😉 But seriously, I have often pondered upoun this myself.

  14. Anish - March 16, 2005 at 1:23 am -

    As an after thought, lett all say Sneeze-it-easy from now on.

  15. Jim and Lynnette's Fun Times Guide - May 28, 2005 at 6:59 am -

    Turn Your Head To The Right & Cough…

    An observation: There seems to be this new “thing” where people cough into their arm! I am not kidding. Perhaps you already know about it, or (gasp!) have been doing it for years. I may just be the last to…

  16. nic - August 26, 2005 at 5:43 am -

    It irks me when someone doesn’t know the proper sneeze-bless-you etiquette. They sneeze and say “Excuse me” and now I’m sitting there with the blessing just lingering there on my lips. What am I supposed to do? Bless you for excusing yourself? You should just sneeze and wait for the blessing. But then there are those people who don’t offer it. You sneeze like four times and nobody says anything. So you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

  17. Lilian - January 17, 2006 at 7:56 pm -

    i thought you say something else when someone coughs……:)

  18. Nicki - August 18, 2006 at 9:35 pm -

    I am plagued by hybrid cough-sneezes. I’ll start coughing/hacking until a let a big sneeze out… a little of both worlds! But Im so perplexed as to why they happen!

  19. yerg - August 30, 2007 at 12:33 pm -

    the whole religion and sneezing thing has always bothered me greatly. what does sneezing have to do with religion anyway? And why in the world would someone bless someone for sneezing, when they don’t bless them for coughing. sneezing means there is an irritation in the nose, maybe lint. coughing could mean the person is drowning, has consumption, or maybe his/her lungs are filling up with water and death is imminent. Nobody has ever died from a sneeze. that is just stupid. And why would you stop there? what about people who fart, or speak in tongues? the cough/fart hybrid is hilarious. what about a sneeze/shit in the pants? maybe a whole catechism and holy eucharist service over that one?? I personally don’t bless anyone, as I am not a priest and normally will tell people that make the mistake of blessing me that I don’t mix religion with sneezing. This is the 21st century fercristsake!!!!!! Get with the program!! Let’s concentrate on important stuff, like getting “under god” out of the Texas State motto!!! that is even stupider. is that a word??

  20. Kathleen - September 1, 2007 at 10:11 am -

    i bless anything that looks like it hurt. 😀

  21. litte girl - January 7, 2008 at 1:14 pm -

    Um, just wondering why all the people so far have a sense of entitlement in being holy enough to bless others in the first place..

    I, on the other hand, know that I am a mere mortal and prefer to simply say “salud” Spanish for health. I just simply wish the other good health-after a cough or sneeze. Seems to work!

  22. Amanda - June 9, 2008 at 12:39 pm -

    Aren’t you supposed to say “Robitussin!” after someone coughs? Ha!

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