Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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The *Science of Sneezing

January 9, 2013
There’s a nasty bug going around our neck of the woods. There’s probably one going around where you live as well. Yesterday I took Grandma Chatterbox to see her doctor for a post surgery checkup. (Yes, I did provide her with hair removal cream for her visit with handsome Dr. Fernando.)

    

I noticed that many people were sneezing in the doctor’s waiting room. The vampire sneeze is very popular these days, where you cover your mouth with your arm and sneeze into an invisible cape, which some say is preferable to covering your mouth with your hand and spreading crud like victims in Stephen King’s The Stand. Some people try to stifle a sneeze and make a sound similar to what happens when you remove the air hose after filling your tire.

    

Others go for a more literary approach, employing what writing instructors call onomatopoeia—the written description of sound. These folks sneeze like the sound is being read rather than heard. Listeners are subjected to: achoo, atchoo and atisshoo, with the first syllable corresponding to the sudden intake of air and the second to the sound of the sneeze. After his hernia operation my dad’s sneeze became the howl of someone being mauled by a polar bear; my mother discreetly hisses like a garden snake. But it’s not the sound of a sneeze that fascinates me. It’s the serial sneezing.

    

Very few people are single sneezers. I myself am a DS—Double Sneezer. I don’t know why I can’t confine myself to one, but just as surely as night follows day my sneeze is soon followed by another. Mrs. Chatterbox is also a DS but she’s sneaky about the second one, tries to cover it with her hand. She thinks I don’t see her nostrils flaring like Secretariat, or her eyes closing. I do. She swears that she’s a SS—Single Sneezer—but this is one of the few areas where she is not to be believed.

    

My scientific analysis suggests that DSers are the most common in our population with SSers being the rarest. Yet people sneezing three or four times aren’t all that uncommon. My older brother was a Sixer. When he started blowing it was a funny sight to behold. This might sound insensitive (he did have chronic hay fever) but he frequently picked on me. I took pleasure slapping my knee and counting off sneezes when he was red-faced, bent over and gasping for breath—too preoccupied to run me down and beat me up, which he often did when he wasn’t struggling for air.

    

I’ve yet to come upon the Holy Grail of sneezing. Yes, there is a Holy Grail of sneezing and if you’d given it time you’d have figured out what it was without needing me to tell you—catching someone sneezing with their eyes open. The scientific community once thought this impossible and maintained that your eyes would fly out of your head if you did so, but scientists are now divided about this (clearly they have too much time and grant money on their hands.) Once ridiculed for wasting time staring at the sun while trying to sneeze with our eyes open, many of us have now sloughed off public scorn to focus on achieving this elusive phenomenon.

    

So what are you? Are you a rare single sneezer? Can you prove it? Do you fall into the category of the ubiquitous DS? Is your Kleenex wet by the time you finish sneeze number….

    

Uh oh…I just sneezed. I’m willing to bet a million bucks another one is…yep!

 

 

*Science/Bullshit



Comments

29 Comments
I am a triple sneezer. I hate the sneezing season because so many people do not even make an attempt to cover their mouths/noses with anything. It has made me a germaphobe. Hope your mom continues with her recovery-
By: Shelly on January 9, 2013
I once read how far you travel with your eyes shut when you sneeze while driving. I don't remember how far it was exactly, but depending on the speed of the car it could be hundreds of yards. Scary, especially if you are a triple sneezer like me.
By: Brighton Pensioner on January 9, 2013
I can sneeze 10 to 15 times. I hate it and have done it all my life. Once I have that first sneeze it becomes a sneezefest. Miserable I tell you. Have a terrific day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on January 9, 2013
I can't beleive you just wrote a post about sneezing - funny stuff. Personally, I sneeze so hard I nearly fall over. My husband laughs. This whole being human thing is a constant source of entertainment. âGesundheit", (which in German means good health) Mindy
By: mindy on January 9, 2013
Mostly I double sneeze - although sometimes it really is just once (or maybe the 2nd one just waits for a while). My dad has sneezing fits where it seems like he sneezes for 10 minutes or more. I once tried to take a picture of myself mid-sneeze. This is VERY difficult. AND once you've finally succeeded? Not all that attractive. But here you go anyway: http://danabugseyeview.blogspot.com/2011/04/poetry-bus-now-with-explosions.html
By: The Bug on January 9, 2013
I come from a family of multi sneezers. My Mother was "allergic" to the ink in the newspaper and on Sunday morning like clockwork as she read the news she would sneeze in excess of 10 times in a row. I as a prepubescent snot would be annoyed at her and her cachoos. It was after giving birth to my daughter that I discovered my Mother had cursed me with her genes and that I also was a multi sneezer. My 12 year old granddaughter stands in front of me as I am on the 6 out of "please don't let it be more than this" sneezes and giggles and watches with a smirk on her face. You just wait....it's in her genes and I'm gonna get my laugh in at her multi sneezing even if it is from the grave.....
By: Oma Linda on January 9, 2013
Like Oma and Comedy Plus, I'm an MS -- multiple sneezer.. I don't believe in stifling a sneeze -- way too much trauma on the body -- but one should be careful not to sneeze at other unsuspecting people ... esp if you're an MS. Btw, did you ever see the Seinfeld about the sneeze? Hilarious.
By: tom sightings on January 9, 2013
I'm a double as well. Some people try to hold back all together and bout blow their brains out. You had me laughing on this one CC!
By: cranky old man on January 9, 2013
Bless you...
By: Alicia on January 9, 2013
I'm at least a DSer. Sometimes more. A friend of mine her Mom will go off with some sneezes, it's hilarious really!
By: Hey Monkey Butt on January 9, 2013
Sneezes are hilarious sometimes, and miserable at others. Yes, i often single sneeze, but occasionally double. Sweetie is a multi-sneezer extraordinaire.
By: mimi on January 9, 2013
Three times, but usually sneeze due to something in the air which could result in a half dozen or more.
By: joeinvegas on January 9, 2013
I have no idea! Probably just once, but I definitely wouldn't sneeze into my arm. I don't fancy getting snot on my clothes.
By: LL COOL JOE on January 9, 2013
oh I am a triple sneezer.....sometimes I can keep the noisedown and sometimes it is completely explosive....one thing I cannot do is sneeze while walking- I have to stop because I could throw out my back....and I don't sneeze in my sleeve....ewwwww I try to have a kleenex handy... and good one getting the cream for your Mom!
By: Kathe W. on January 9, 2013
I attempt to sneeze just a little different each bout Never counted how many... could care less Have been know to fart and sneeze at the same time The louder the better
By: IT (aka Ivan Toblog) on January 9, 2013
All my life up until recently I've been a single sneezer. The last few weeks, however, for reasons I don't understand, I've had numerous double and even triple sneezes. The most distressing thing about my sneezes is that I can't be discreet about them. When I sneeze I've been told I rattle the window panes. And on those (thankfully) rare days when I might sneeze 10 or 15 times my diaphragm is just worn out, so much so that the next day I feel like I've done a thousand sit-ups. UGH! S
By: scott park on January 9, 2013
I googled onomatopoeia, because I thought you had made it up and I wanted to call you out on it. But whaddayaknow...it's a real word. I'm trying to think of a scenario where I could use it and impress the hell out of someone, but I can't come up with anything.
By: Pixel Peeper on January 9, 2013
Single sneezer here. My husband is a grand champion multi-sneezer. It's annoying really. For me. How dare he make me listen to that! The last time, we counted over twenty.
By: Val on January 9, 2013
Upper respiratory viruses and flu are rampant here. We have stayed healthy except for a mild cold a few weeks ago. We tend to be triple sneezers although I have no way to prove it. As for Kleenex...I am severely allergic to them. I have yet to find a mainstream brand that doesn't irritate the heck out of me... runnier nose, more sneezing and watery eyes.
By: Cheryl P. on January 9, 2013
I'm a double as well, although on the rare occasion, I may delay a 3rd one in there. I'm also old school, if nobody is around I just turn my head and sneeze. If there are people, I use my hands. Most occasions, it's a dry sneeze so it's cool. But on the rare occasion it's not, it isn't pretty. And I call TMI on myself for this comment.
By: Jeff Laws on January 9, 2013
I'm a multi-sneezer. Seven or more is common. My record is 27 (and I've come close many times). Exhausting! I read in a book, "Where Did I Come From" I think it was, that orgasms were like really good sneezes. Hmmm...
By: Mitchell is Moving on January 10, 2013
I'm a T+ Sneezer. I sneeze 3+ times at once. Wish I could keep it to two. Once I start sneezing, though, I can't stop. Bless you, and bless you. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on January 10, 2013
The person who sits in the cubicle next to me sneezes so loud I keep thinking one of these days he's going to give me a heart attack when he sneezes and I think there's a freight train behind me.
By: PT Dilloway on January 10, 2013
I'm a 3-5 times--and they're explosive--almost window rattling--there's no controlling or stifling them. Karma always sits up after the first one to watch the rest as she finds them fascinating and a bit unsettling. Karma, herself, is a one time usually--much quieter and more delicate than mine. ;)
By: Rita McGregor on January 10, 2013
Multi-sneezer here. Three at the very least... more like 5 or 6 in general. But I tend to stifle them and Frank keeps telling me I'm going to burst an artery and/or have a stroke because of it. He tends to sneeze either once or several times.. rarely just two or three. And he makes me jump when he does... they're floor rattlers.
By: Hilary on January 11, 2013
I usually only sneeze once.... a big, huge, loud sneeze that can scare the pants off of anyone around.
By: Terry (Are We There Yet!) on January 11, 2013
My mother always used to claim that geniuses sneeze in threes. What she based that claim on, I have no idea!
By: Patricia on January 11, 2013
I get hit with a sneezing fit about a half hour after I wake up every morning. Probably close to 10. For about a minutes, I just sneeze one right after another. I don't know why. I sneeze a bunch. I blow my nose and then I am fine.
By: Brett Minor - Transformed Nonconformist on January 13, 2013
I'm amazed that my doctor comes down with nothing. He credits it to use of hand sanitizer. Amazing!
By: Michael Manning on January 15, 2013

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