I have a question. What is the proper thing to say if someone sneezes?
Actually, the correct spelling of the word is gesundheit. Really??? "Gesundheit???" I could have tried spelling it one thousand four hundred and twenty eight different ways before ever stumbling onto that spelling. It doesn't make much sense. (And I've never understood it when people say if you don't know how to spell a word you should look it up in the dictionary. How can I look it up in the dictionary if I don't know how to spell it? If I knew what to look for enough to look up a word, I wouldn't have to look it up in the first place!)
Gesundheit is a German word. Why are we using it? Didn't we beat the Germans in "the war to end all war" (World War I) and "the big one" (World War II) so they wouldn't conquer the world and we didn't have to learn their language? Even though my grandmother was of German descent (and I loved her very much), I still don't trust the Germans. For one thing, they tried to take over the world. Twice. For another thing, they think David Hasselhoff is talented.
To be honest, the only German word I want to be using on a regular basis is "bratwurst."
Quick quiz: What does gesundheit mean in German? Is it:
A) God bless you
B) Good health
C) Look out! Someone is sneezing!
4) Man, that's a lot of snot!
5) The bathtub is plugged again.
The answer, which came as a surprise to me, is "good health." (I always thought it meant "God bless you.") When you look at it, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to shout "good health" whenever someone sneezes. Is it a boast? (As in, "I have good health, but you don't.") Or is it a genuine wish for the good health of the sneezer? (As in, "I wish you good health, so you don't sneeze all over me again!")
I think we could probably do without gesundheit altogether. We could easily replace it with "God bless you," or "bless you," or "look out," or "sorry about your sneeze," or even make up a new word, like "kasneezers." (I've personally try to say kasneezers whenever anyone sneezes. It hasn't caught on yet. I usually get blank stares from confused people.) (But then, I get that a lot no matter what I'm trying to say.)
There's only one thing holding me back from going on a full frontal assault against the word gesundheit: it reminds me of my daughter, and it makes me smile. Let me explain. A while back, when Roni was about two years old, I was getting her ready for church one Sunday. I had gotten her in her church dress, and was starting to put tights on her to cover her legs. She looked at the tights, turned to me, and asked, "Are these gazoon tights?" Gazoon tights!!! I don't know what a "gazoon" is, but I know that girl is hilarious! (It was about this same time when she wondered why, if we had "Mini-wheats" why didn't we have "Mickey-wheats?" She's always been pretty clever.)
So, whenever she wears tights anymore, we wonder if they are regular tights or if they are "gazoon tights."
We don't say "gesundheit" (or "gazoon tights") when she sneezes anymore, though. Instead we say, "Don't just stand there! Get a tissue and wipe you nose!" Up until this point in her life, whenever she has sneezed she has had an adult run to her, tissue in hand, to wipe her nose, face, and wherever else it was needed. But, now that she is almost five years old, she is going to have to start taking care of this herself. She hasn't quite grasped this concept yet, and when she sneezes she stands and waits to be waited upon.
But, she's a smart girl and she'll figure it out. (Eventually.) Other mysteries she might (eventually) figure out? How to spell gesundheit. What a gazoon is. And, perhaps the greatest mystery of all, why the Germans like David Hasselhoff.