Thursday, 2 August 2012
The Jones family are currently riveted to the TV savouring the Olympic Games taking place in our home country. Over the weekend, my 21-year-old son and I were sitting in the living room watching the women’s beach volleyball – funny how we gravitated to that option given there were a dozen other channels to choose from – when an odd thing happened.
First, let me give you a bit more information about my son. Ryan is a great lad, bright, quick-witted and more charm than a cross-legged Indian who plays a flute for the snakes to dance to. He is, however, a bit strange in his ways. Since a child he has, for example, energetically refused to stand on a bath mat, protesting it felt “squidgy” under his feet. He is also overly alert to the risk of contamination; two years ago when I accidentally wore a pair of his new underpants he adamantly refused to wear them again despite them doing a couple of cycles of “boil wash” in our Bosch automatic. All-in-all, he must only be a foible away from being on the autistic spectrum.
Anyway, there I was in the living room sitting in my usual armchair, lap-top resting on my thighs, watching those lithe young female forms do battle at either side of the volley-ball net. Ryan was sitting on the settee, about two metres away, also transfixed on the TV. It remains a mystery as to what triggered my sneeze. I suffer with hay-fever so the precipitant might have been some air-borne pollen. Alternatively, sexual arousal can elicit sneezing (or so I’ve read – something to do with the co-location of the sexual and sneezing centres in the brain) so maybe it was the excess female flesh that stirred me. Whether it was dust or lust, what was clear was that I was beyond the point of no return towards a sneeze of nuclear proportion.
I fumbled for my handkerchief in my trouser pocket but a combination of ballooning middle-age mid-riff and sweaty thighs (from the warmth of the laptop) impeded my progress and I did not get it out in time. I tried to stifle the explosion rising within me by striving to keep my mouth shut and my nostrils constricted but all these efforts succeeded in doing was to narrow the barrel from which the sneeze was being emitted and thereby increase its velocity.
AHHHH – CHOO! My sneeze reverberated through the living room, followed by an almost imperceptible thud, the reason for this second noise not at first being evident. I looked across at Ryan. His head was bowed, no longer ogling the beach volleyball, instead staring at the front of his designer t-shirt. As I squinted I could just about detect a green pellet of mucous on the white fabric front of his prized recent purchase. Holding the snotty part of his shirt away from his skin, Ryan jumped up and ran to the kitchen to show Mrs Jones what her “degenerate” husband had done. When he returned to the living room, still holding his soiled shirt out in front of him, I vainly tried to make amends by leaning over and wiping off the offending sputum with my (now retrieved) hanky.
“Are you sure that came from your mouth?” Ryan asked, his quivering voice suggesting he was still in shock.
“Yes,” I replied, “if it had come from my nose it would be crusty with a long tail.”
I expect to find a designer t-shirt in the trash-bin any time soon.