I am a loud sneezer. When I sneeze, people notice. Heads bolt upright, like gazelles on the savannah . . . what just happened? what might come next? . . . when in fact it was only me, sneezing. And what comes next, generally, is a second sneeze. And then it’s over.

I type this on my Blackberry, waiting for my train, having just left the sushi place in the Food Mall in the basement of Union Station. (Obviously, Charles is not with me.). Moments ago, sitting, sipping my diet Coke, suddenly — ha-SHEEESH!

The sushi chef’s head snapped up from his work. Passers-by swiveled. A transit cop reached for her gun. But then, almost as fast, shoulders relaxed and looks of amusement crossed people’s faces as they began to make sense of it.

‘It’s okay,’ I waved, smiling. ‘Everything’s all right. I’m a loud sneezer.’ To which I added gestures that said, in effect, ‘No need for applause; thank you very much; tell your friends.’

An attractive young couple standing at the sushi cash register smiled broadly. Anything is novel and noteworthy when you’re young and in love.

The guy smiled broadly as he and his girl friend departed, California rolls to go. I could see we had made a momentary connection, so I said, ‘Hey, I’m sitting down. You should see me sneeze standing up. I stamp my foot and everything. It’s quite a show.’

‘God bless you he said,’ almost a little too earnestly, leaving me to wonder whether he was playing along or a young missionary come to work for the Romney campaign.

I figured I might find out on the trip to New York, but they were evidently headed someplace else.


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