Stealing a Sneeze


Madeleine Hall is a Junior at USC, studying Communications. When I was about to sneeze, she said “bless you.” When I asked why she said it before I sneezed, she told me that it would steal my sneeze, that basically I would lose it. Seeing the folkloric potential, I recorded this piece.


Madeleine: Okay, when someone has to sneeze, you say “bless you”, so it takes their sneeze. I have no idea where I learned it.


I was excited to have stumbled across folklore without needing to ask for it. Also, I found her subversion of the “bless you” saying interesting. By saying it before the sneeze instead of after, the sneeze is somehow stolen from you. Also, it is worth noting that she cannot remember who she first heard this from. For her, this is a common saying taken for granted. For me, this is a common saying subverted in a new way.