Did you know that the Chinese equivalent of “Bless you” is “Yi bai sui”, or ‘one hundred years’? Well that is something I have learned intimately in the last while (also, I’m proud to announce that I am going to live forever, thanks to this blessing).
Ah, my wonderful seasonal allergies. I was allergy-free throughout my childhood, only developing them in my late teens, and at that time they were, fortunately, isolated to the late summer season. However, as the years have progressed and I have relocated, it appears that the only season in which I do not suffer from seasonal allergies is winter. And if there is anything my current city likes, it seems to be planting various species of trees that I am allergic to, all of which pollinate at different times. Thanks, guys.
The only thing that makes the sneezing and itchy nose and eyes enjoyable is that in between sneezes I get to constantly explain to every Chinese person I encounter that I do not, in fact, have a cold, but actually have allergies (and in case you can’t tell, that was sarcasm; it’s actually not fun at all). It’s not like Chinese people don’t suffer from allergies too…it’s just not the first guess they make.
So, from March until who-knows-when every year, I spend my days taking western allergy medication (thanks for sending it, mom!), sneezing, and fielding amateur medical advice on how to treat my “cold” from all sorts of people in my daily life – coworkers, my mother-in-law (who has been told multiple times that I have allergies, but who seems to refuse to believe it), parents of the students I teach, random shopkeepers. So far I’ve managed to resist shouting, “Drinking hot water isn’t going to get rid of my allergies, fool!” but tomorrow’s a new day and anything could happen.
The other day was a particularly bad day and sneezing all day had given me a headache. I was feeling quite miserable by the evening, so after my husband and I finished dinner, we sat down to relax for a while and he tried to cheer me up.
After yet another sneezing fit, my husband cocked his head and looked at me in the strangest way. When I asked him what the problem was, he responded by asking me whether my brother had allergies like I do (no, he doesn’t), and then whether my dad does (again, no). I was a little confused about where it was all going until he blurted out,
“So how come you have allergies?”
I began to explain that my mom has them quite severely too, and also that allergies are not entirely inherited.
“But you’ve got your dad’s nose?” he sputtered. “Are you telling me that you got the outside of your nose from your dad and the inside from your mom?”
Cheering up – successful.