Well, Bless Your Heart -- Uh, Unless That Offends You

2 years ago

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

The other day I was at the house of my daughter's friend. The kids were having a play date and I was chatting with the mom. Our daughters were in preschool together, but I don't know the family that well. At some point her husband joined us and we had a pleasant conversation until he sneezed, and I said, "Bless you!" His response? "I'm an atheist, and I don't want to be blessed."

I was really taken aback and didn't say anything.

Should I have? Should I say something to him or his wife?

Signed,

Achoo


Image: Superhua via Flickr

Dear Achoo,

I am thinking of writing a book titled Things I Should Have Said If I'd Only Thought of Them at the Time Instead of When Everyone Has Forgotten About the Incident. (Totally catchy title, right? I know. ) Anyway, about the unwelcome bless-you ... Unfortunately, unless you have access to time travel, you won't be able to have a pithy retort to the Sneezing Atheist.

That's the other book I'm thinking about writing: People Who Say Things That "Seinfeld" Characters Have Said Several Decades Ago, but I got stuck on the "Master of My Domain" chapter.

But let's get back to what he said to you. The thing is, I'm sure that atheists get a lot of God thrown at them, just as some religious people are confronted with views that are contrary to their faith. And that's what makes me file Sneezing Atheist's response under the Rude category.

After all, you weren't whipping out the rosary beads, blowing the Shofar and scheduling Mass in honor of his sneeze. You were simply saying "bless you," because that is what some people in the English-speaking world do when another fellow human person sneezes. As far as I can tell from your email, you weren't trying to lead his family in prayer.

So enjoy the play dates that the kids have. And be sure to stay away from him during hay fever season!

Good luck,

Marinka, TMH

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