Last night my friends and I decided that in the middle of the snow storm we would trek up Kingston Avenue, for a truly delightful meal at a tres chic Gehzee hotspot. To any normal person this is a simple task. But for me and my friends it takes careful planning. You see one of us has to make sure we have enough tissues. Its cold outside and well we get runny noses. And of course we need aleve for our aches and pains. Oh and then there are the snacks, just in case the stick your finger up your nose diabetes test comes back positive and our blood sugar gets low. Needless to say the preparation for going out ages us greatly. We might as well just start using walkers and canes now. Anyway, we finally made it to the restaurant and sat down for our meal. Now I am not going to critique the service...but we were there for over two hours. None of us minded, but SERIOUSLY two hours all we ordered were salads. Anyway we sat, we shmoozed, and someone sneezed. Then they sneezed again and again and again. The typical reaction ignore it or acknowledge it with the normal dark age response to sneezing, "God Bless You." I say dark ages because the origin of "God Bless You," dates back to a time when the common cold would cause death. Therefore, when you sneeze God should bless you not to get sick, contract the black plague, yada yada yada, and die (poo, poo, poo).
As a child superstition was very common concept in my home. We are Jews, so everything is bad luck. My grandmother was extremely superstitious. You know throw salt over your shoulder, don't step on a crank, and something about seven mirrors or bad luck or something like that. Whatever it was, my grandmother was always trying to make sure that the ayin hara (evil eye) was far far away. Part of her precautionary measures against the evil spirits was to make sure the give us extra blessings every time we sneezed. Yes that is right Grammy was living in the dark ages where if you sneeze, that might mean you have acold, and a cold means the black plague and well the black plague means death (poo, poo, poo). Therefore whenever a sneeze was heard my Grandmother would start "tzugehzunt, tzib laben, tzib voxen, nachamol, nachamol, nachamol." Again this is one of those Yiddish phrases you might just happen to see at Gupta's. This phrase as I have now learned from one of my favorite Gehzee sources (no sarcasm here, this one is really a favorite) means "To heath, to life, and to growth (upward not outward, ie spiritual growth) again and again and again." This is a pretty hefty blessing to give just for a sneeze, but it always made us laugh and so far we are all healthy, living, and growing (mostly outward).
Ok back to dinner. So someone sneezed. And then they sneezed again and again and again. So without even thinking, out came my Grandmother's favorite Yiddish blessing, to your health, to your life, to your growth, again and again and again ( I said it in Yiddish). My friends started cracking up. What in the world did I just say. A simple dark ages "God Bless You," would have been fine. But no, my Grandmother's words flew out of my mouth as if she had it all planned. My friend passed a tissue to the sneezer, and my other friend asked if they had a cold and need some aleve. We finished our salads, bundled back up and made our way out into the frozen tundra. Each one of us like a little old Grandma.