Friday, May 12, 2006

No. Excuse You.

When you live in New York, you become accustomed to being in close proximity to other people. Someone brushes past you in Duane Reade? No prob. You step on someone's foot on the train? They're okay with it. Sometimes the short distance between passersby can even be advantageous, like when you get turned around in a new neighborhood, someone overhears you trying to figure out where the heck you are, and s/he points you toward the restaurant you're looking for. Or when you have two beers at a bar, somehow miss a single bright-yellow neon stairstep on the way out, fall not-so-gracefully on your behind, and a stranger helps you up. (Um, not that that happened to me this past Tuesday night....)

But sometimes being so close to others is just damn annoying. Like today, for instance:

I was walking down the street on the way to my apartment after work, and I sneezed, in the process covering my mouth with my hand, as civilized adults tend to do. Then, about .65 seconds after I sneezed, hand still on my mouth, some woman on a cell phone standing nearby says, "Excuse you!" and continues on with her conversation.

I turned back and stared at her, and replayed the whole incident in my mind at least five times on my way to my apartment. Did someone actually chastise me for sneezing in public? I mean, it is one thing to emit certain other bodily noises around strangers, but sneezing? Will someone please tell me when this became culturally offensive?

But mark my words, Rude Mystery Lady. Next time, I will not be so silent. Next time, I will go all Lynne Truss on your ass and say something really witty as I walk away.


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