‘the sneeze that was heard around our world’


For some reason, I don’t know why, this girl Sandy from my home room asked if I wanted to sit with her at lunch.  Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High was very divided when it came to lunch.  Everyone just seemed to know where they belonged and without variation they ate together- the beautiful people.  I knew where Sandy sat… by the windows, by the girls with long, very straight hair and some makeup; blue eye shadow to be exact.  I wonder if they know today, what I knew back then …the table.they sat at was  called the ‘popular table’.  Why Sandy asked me there on that day, I will never know. I certainly never anticipated that I would be asked.  But I do know that it was a mistake, one that would  that haunt me for years afterward.

We first went through the cafeteria lunch line.  Thank goodness it was Pizza Day and I hadn’t brought my lunch.  My mom only let me buy lunch twice a month.  I was acutely aware that the ‘popular table’ always bought lunch.  I loved, loved  the pizza they served- so cheesy with a wonderfully soggy crust.  The grease  just pooled up on the top, just like I loved it back then.  Sandy had her pizza and I followed her like a gosling over to the table.The eyes turned up and looked at me for a second and then they just went back to their conversation about who liked who and who was going shopping uptown and who was the cutest boy in 7th.  I sat down next to Sandy feeling fairly confident in my decision to abandon my friends at the old table when suddenly…

the room started to spin.  My nose was itching, my body was quavering.  I let out the this screaming sneeze.  In slow motion I saw the entire cafeteria watching for what would happen next. The volcano erupted and snot went flying everywhere! 

Back then it was considered rude to sneeze into our arm like the kids of today have been taught.  My hand back then, hadn’t reacted quickly enough…no Kleenex could have ever cleaned up that mess.

Sandy turned to me “…you…you…your snot is sitting in my pizza”.  Everyone at the table was silent before they erupted with laughter…even my old table of friends.

For years after Sandy would remind me, whenever she saw me, which wasn’t often,  of the day when I sneezed in ‘their’ pizza.

My old table…well…they actually welcomed me back…just glad that it wasn’t them that faced the humiliation of the ‘sneeze that was heard around our world’.

snip…snap…sneeze- that telling was a breeze


About Nanc

lifelong teacher who is semi-retired (does this sound better?) who loves God, family and laughing... who hates social injustice... who wants to write every day... who needs to exercise every day... who blog hops... who wants to live her everyday life led by her savior, Jesus Christ!

6 responses »

  1. The trauma of junior high! Now, it’s funny. Then, not so much. Your descriptions are so vivid, I can taste that pizza and feel the gaze of the girls. Thanks for giving me a chuckle as I steal moments to read slices while I’m supposed to be working. Shhh!

  2. Aw. I felt so badly for you as I was reading (especially when Sandy said that your snot was in her pizza).

    I threw up on a boy’s shoes when I was in the sixth grade. It happened in the hallway and everyone saw. I couldn’t bear going back to school the next day, but since I was still sick I didn’t have to. Of course, I was better two days later and my parents made me go back. By then, everyone had forgotten about it and had moved on to something else. But of course, as a typical jr. high kid, I was still worried about it!

  3. Wow did this bring back a flood of memories and emotions. I always WANTED to fit in with the popular crowd, but NEVER did. I wasted so much time back then trying, hoping, crying, praying to be “one of them.” I STILL want to fit in – to be liked – to have friends. But now, I also like myself and am content to have a large family who loves me – though I still long for a REAL friend or two.

  4. Ha! Love the story! Your sentence rhythm and great descriptions make the emotions in this…fly everywhere on the page! Sweet slice! 🙂

  5. Boy, you really brought me back to those cafeteria moments! I love the build-up to the sneeze, your description of what you felt happening in your body. Fabulous!

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