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Davis, California

Friday, September 24, 2021

Column: Dave Karimi

ACHOOOOOOOO! A sneeze booms from the mouth of someone sitting behind me in lecture, so loud that I can barely regain my composure (if you consider thinking about Narwhals composure).

Excuse me?! Here I am sitting peacefully, pretending to understand the minutiae of chirality and hydrobromination in organic chemistry, when you have the audacity to shower me with saliva and nearly rupture my eardrums. I think the sonic boom might have even traveled down into the professor’s microphone for a little added reverberation. It’s a real gem for the podcasts.

OK, I can handle it once – or even a couple times – but it seems like Davis has been struck with an epidemic: I haven’t seen so many people sneeze this much before. It’s crazy. Oh, the joys of Swine Flu fall. I’m not sure if I should reach for my imaginary side-arm and brace myself for another World War scale attack or just cower in fear underneath my left-hand-discriminatory desk.

These sneezers have converted the once peaceful SciLec into a trench-style war where people are taking cover under hoods, hair and desks.

(Speaking of SciLec, I’m really bothered by the lack of light that professors use during lectures. Why do we have to listen to the lecture as if we’re in a cave? It’s mid afternoon, I just came from the Silo where I gorged in a pile of the type of food that doubles in size when it hits the bottom of your stomach, and you’re going to dim the lights?! Jesus. You might as well throw a Barry White LP on the acoustic record player and light some candles while you’re at it. But I digress.)

While everyone sneezes their brains out, I can’t help but notice the horrific obtuseness of some of the sneezes. These odd sneezes just bother me on some fundamental level that I can’t explain. You know what those sneezes sound like. You say, “God … what kind of sneeze is that?!” in your head. I say the same thing (out loud) … it’s about a sneeze that many of you already do. It’s the, “I’m-going-to-plug-every-hole-on-my-face-in-hopes-of-not-making-an-explosion-loud-enough-to-draw-attention-to-myself” sneeze.

It’s the biggest farce I’ve ever seen in my life. How in the hell can a human un-train himself from an involuntary response? How is that normal? You forcibly close your mouth and plug your nose when it was evolutionarily designed to be opened during such an event. The point of a sneeze is to kick that shit out, not keep it in. Putting up a defense barrier of clenched teeth and pinched nostrils is horrible … inhumane, even.

Imagine what it sounds like when you’re getting choked. Okay. Now imagine that the choker just let you go: UGHNNN-uhhhhh. That’s the sound I hear from people who choose this method of sneezing. If you don’t understand the point of a sneeze, then you are a lost cause in my eyes.

My friend Matt said, “The plug-up sneeze is designed to prevent the spread of sneeze-juice. It’s also a more humble of the sneeze varieties.” All right. Fair point. The plug-up sneezers are trying to save the world by keeping their sneeze-juice inside – those people sitting in front of you appreciate your unprompted magnanimity.

But for every humanitarian effort, there is a major setback looming around the corner. Let me explain: When you close two out of the three holes in your body, the last hole is bound to explode.

Let that baby simmer in your mind for a moment. Yes. That’s exactly what I meant. And it’s also my worst nightmare. How can you plug-up sneezers not be afraid of letting out a massive fart in the middle of an auditorium acoustically engineered to capture, amplify, and reflect sound? Let alone one that is chock full of over 500 silent and cynical people? Are you mad? The fart is GUARANTEED to be loud if it’s shooting out your ass with that much force!

By the way, don’t be fooled into thinking it can be the great “silent” escape. It’s like Russian roulette, but in this version of the game, the bullets take your dignity. How can you take such a devastatingly gaseous high-risk gamble? Is it really worth it?

DAVE KARIMI enjoys thinking about Narwhals. Have you seen these things? If a unicorn somehow fucked a whale real good, you’d get a Narwhal. No lie. E-mail him at dkarimi@ucdavis.edu to let him know if he’s tickling your funny bone. Please?

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