Last night, David and I went to a movie (An Education, which was completely delightful--you should see it. I may be over my Peter Saarsgard infatuation, though.) We arrived during the previews and tried not to rustle our contraband candy too much as we were getting settled. We're polite and seasoned movie-goers. Since we were going to be there a while, I took out a tissue and blew my nose. Might as well get it out of the way. It's just part of my lifestyle.
I don't think I was very loud, but the theater was mostly empty, and verrrry quiet. The effect was instantaneous. There was a couple in front of us, at least half a row over, not very close at all. Both their heads swiveled in my direction simultaneously. I tried not to smile, sensing what was next. Sure enough, they stood up, gathered their things, and moved down about three rows. David and I sunk down in our seats and snickered.
Readers, I am not heartless and unfeeling. I know we are in the middle of what the news anchors have been proclaiming a pandemic. But you've all heard far too often in this space about my lousy sinuses. They've been my personal plague all my life. But now, for the first time, my sinuses have become a larger social issue. And because I own them, I've become a pariah.
On the way back from Montana, we flew in a very small, crowded plane. I found my seat, sat down, and began sneezing like mad, which is my usual response to boarding a plane. (See above where I have lousy sinuses. I think I may be allergic to planes.) The thing is, I'm like a Girl Scout when it comes to my nose. I'm always prepared and ready to help it cross the street (oh, I think that's the Boy Scouts. I'm getting confused. I wasn't a very good Girl Scout. The other Girl Scouts tried to beat me up once for not having enough badges. They were a tough bunch. But I digress.)
So what I'm saying is, I was totally ready for it. I sneezed into a tissue. The whole experience was safer than the Wiggles. But the woman across the aisle acted like I had just penetrated her plastic bubble and caused irreversible contamination. She hunched forward in her seat, pulled her jacket over her head (!) and pressed her face into the tray table in front of her. It's like she was preparing for an emergency water landing. Without meaning to, my response was to sneeze a few more times. She cringed and cowered. I was THIS CLOSE to tapping her on the shoulder (after a liberal squeeze of Purell, of course) and whispering: "Allergies, not swine flu. Just thought you might like to know."
All I have to do to clear a room or amass greater personal space is to take out a tissue. I don't even have to use it. If I just wave it in the general direction of my nostrils, it's like the Red Sea of humanity parting. Why, thank you. I was feeling a little claustrophobic there. This is so much better. The irony is, I'm not sick. I'm hale and hearty. Never better. But people are fleeing from me like I'm Godzilla. I could just imagine what kind of havoc I could wreak at a crowded mall, or a Sports Arena concert.
Wait, that's giving me some ideas.