My Allergies



I don’t just sneeze, I blast.

My sneezes fall somewhere on the Richter scale between a concussion grenade and a sonic boom. They are so loud and the blast area so wide that people as far away as Greenland have emailed me Gesundheits.

And they always come in threes:



There, that feels better.

I don’t know why I explode like that, so I asked my doctor.

“I dunno,” he said.

“Don’t you suppose we should find out?”

“Why?” he asked.

“So I don’t do it anymore,” I suggested.

“Greg,” he said, “with all your issues, sneezing is not even on the list.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because,” he said, reaching into his shirt pocket to retrieve a slip of paper. “Your wife gave me the list. Let’s start there.”

What do doctors know anyway?

So I put it to the real experts, the Thursday night patrons of The Pit. It is our local bar and the font from which all knowledge flows. The regulars may not be the smartest people on earth, nor the best informed, but collectively they possess a wisdom that is, if not truly wise, at least difficult to argue with.

“You got a dog?” someone asked.

“Yes,” I told them, “his name is Scooter.”

“What kind of dog?”

“Whatever come over the fence,” I said.

“Oh, a mutt.”

That made a difference. No one at the bar thought it possible to be allergic to a mutt. It was their considered opinion that the breeding done to please people rather than dogs is what causes health problems in both humans and canines.

“Any cats?”

“Inside or out?”


When I explained that we have eight barn cats and two house cats, a fierce debate erupted. Not about allergies, mind you, but about the wisdom or lack thereof of allowing a cat inside a house.

After a half-hour and several invitations to take the dispute into the parking lot, it was concluded that if a person was allergic to cats, such a high number of either barn or house cats would probably kill them, so felines were not the issue… at least as far as allergies were concerned.

“How about ragweed?” one old-timer asked.

“He lives next to the Minnesota Mosquito Refuge,” someone said, “it’s nothing but ragweed and wild cucumber.”

So again, still being among the living scratched the possibility of a ragweed allergy.

“It could be trees,” another sage suggested, “cottonwood, elm, maple, oak, box elder, walnut and willow will all make you sneeze.”

“That is about every tree there is;” I said. “How can I avoid trees?”

“Move to the Arctic,” came the answer.

This caused another divergence of opinion. A good half of the crowd enthusiastically embraced the idea of me moving to the Arctic. The other half, the half who did not owe me money, thought it best to preserve the possibility of one day owing me money and therefore thought it best I remain in Almost Iowa.

“So what do I do?” I asked.

This prompted a long discussion of just what ‘this was good for that’. Everyone had their remedies. Everyone had their sure-fire cures. Things got quite heated and emotional until Stan walked through the door and sneezed…




“What the…? Why are YOU sneezing?”

Stan could hardly speak as another set of sneezes welled up in his nose.

“It’s…it’s…it’s–KAZOOO!!–his road,” Stan said.

Once he composed himself, he explained. Contrary to what the township fathers insist, Five Drunk Creek Trail is not a ‘gravel’ road, since not a single pebble can be found on it, rather it is a dirt road or more accurately, a dust road.

And the dust–KAZOOO!!–makes people sneeze.

“But how come you guys sneeze when you get here?” someone asked.

Stan took off his ball cap and slapped the bill against his leg, sending a plume of fine dust wafting across the bar.

I need not describe what followed.


Author: Almost Iowa

44 thoughts on “My Allergies”

    1. Our clinic has one of those motivational posters that reads, THE PATIENT ALWAYS COMES FIRST, but some wag penciled in the comment, “only if his spouse agrees”. I don’t know who that was and honest, it wasn’t me or at least that is my story.

  1. Explosive sneezes come in threes for a reason: the first to clear the dust out of your sinuses, the second to shake the dust off the walls, and the third to warn folks to stand back should there be another volley. After all, you wouldn’t want to trigger any dust-ups.

    1. I like the warning shot idea and am considering adopting it, though I will have to first consult my nose on the new policy and obtain its buy-in.

  2. The dusty roads are most probably the culprit! Especially if the guys at The Pit think so, since I would not be foolish enough to cross them. But as to the actual way you sneeze, I think that’s just genetics. And not necessarily a bad thing. I had a friend who had the opposite problem: her sneezes where such tiny little things that people constantly made fun of her. It sounded as if she were trying to be funny, but she wasn’t…that was just the way she sneezed!

    1. I knew a woman like that too. It was the funniest sneeze and she got so embarrasses every time she did it, but it was endearing and we loved her for it.

  3. I have a long history of historic sneezes dating back to the 50’s (the decade I was born). My most surprising sneezes are the ones that wake me up in the night. And my poor husband. And the neighbors. I’ll have to start counting – I don’t stop at three. The worst thing is to hold them in. Do you know the people who hold their nose and utter a muffled expression that in no way resembles a real sneeze? They are going to suffer long term consequences from the pressure build up in their brains one of these days!

    1. the ones that wake me up in the night. And my poor husband. And the neighbors

      My sheep-farmer neighbor: Greg, you woke my flock last night – several times.
      Me: I know, the coyotes showed up this morning to complain.

  4. My wife sneezes a lot, but she can’t hold a candle to me for volume – I don’t sneeze in threes, though…sounds a little OCD 😉

  5. Some people speak in tongues – my father-in-law would sneeze in tongues. He would rip off two doozies in quick succession, usually to “haba-chew-raba!” and then “haba-chew-reba!” He never translated…

  6. Ah, yes, the knowledge of the locals shared at the bar.

    I was introduced to the Legion at a small sw Minnesota town on Friday evening. The line of the night came from Carol: “All you need are boards and nails. Boards and nails.”

  7. Yeah, the old dusty road. When I lived in Indiana I had the same problem. I would sneeze for an hour straight after coming home. My wife accused me of pretending to be allergic to her. I reminded her that I would sneeze for an hour after arriving at work. (My boss had the same opinion as the wife. Lucky for me, both moved on.)

  8. 😀 😀 😀
    For a minute there, I thought you were gonna tell us you’re allergic to Stan!
    “breeding done to please people rather than dogs is what causes health problems in both humans and canines.” ==> Truth!

    1. So as I was writing that line about dog breeding, Scooter was giving me the stink eye. It was his way of reminding him that I got him fixed.

      “What?” I asked him, “you want to pay puppy support?”

      And he stomped away.

      Don’t worry, I have a pork chop in the refrigerator that will make everything right again. Pork chops do that, you know.

  9. Oddly enough I just had this conversation on someone else’s blog recently. I’m a violent sneezer as well. I mean that’s the very nature of a sneeze isn’t it? Expulsion? I always detested those dainty little women who stifled sneezes and secretly hoped they suffered sinus trouble in later life. Let your sneeze fly free, embrace the kazoo!

  10. My mother always was embarassed by my sneezes. She said they weren’t lady-like, and that I should tone it down. When I asked how she suggested I do that, she’d just say, “I’m sure you can figure something out.” I still haven’t found a way to tone it down when the cedar pollen’s in the air.

    1. they weren’t lady-like

      As a brother to six sisters who were constantly admonished to be “lady-like”, I can testify to their efforts to be anything but… However, now that they are grown, each in their own way has achieved the status of being a lady, while somehow still being a sister.

  11. I wonder if that’s a thing–sneezing in three’s? That’s how I sneeze. If I only sneeze twice, there is a hesitation from my-coworkers. They know that third sneeze is gonna’ happen. Of course, we use the old joke “I must be allergic to work.”

    1. I know exactly what you are talking about. When I sneezed at the office and failed to follow it up with a second or third sneeze, work ground to a halt. I was called into HR many times and warned to “just keep sneezing.” 🙂

  12. I bet my husband could give you a run for the money! His sneezes can make you jump a mile from fright. 😜

  13. Blame it on your wife. That works here. 🙂 My husband sneezes in multiples closer to eight, always has, always will. When we first got married and for many years after, it was my perfume, my hair spray, my shampoo – you get the idea. Now, after MANY years of marriage I don’t wear perfume or use hair spray, and he uses the same shampoo. But, he still stands by his claim that I’ve done something to make him sneeze. Give it a try. 🙂

    1. As I sat at our kitchen island writing this essay, I though of blaming my wife because I always do. But then she called from the living room, “I know what you are thinking. Don’t do it.” She says that a lot.

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