The 10 Best Sneezes of 2016, by Jonathan Zeller

sneeze
10. Marie, May 3, at the office
The sound: “Choo!”
Why it was one of the best: This dainty, feminine sneeze reminded us why we love Marie.

9. Andrew, January 4, at the mall food court
The sound: “Haaaaaa!”
Why it was one of the best: This forceful, booming sneeze sounded truly out of control—at its heart, a sneeze is an involuntary expulsion of air. It would have been nice if he’d covered his nose and mouth (just ask Stu, whose chalupa was rendered inedible by Andrew’s mucous), but we know a good sneeze when we hear it.

8. Diana, September 28, in the bedroom
The sound: A barely audible, stifled noise—almost like a hiccup.
Why it was one of the best: With Mark asleep next to her, Diana pinched her nose and muffled the sound of her sneeze. This though she was having trouble sleeping, and her allergies were driving her crazy. That’s one reason this marriage works so well.

7. Reginald, December 10, at the office
The sound: “Ahhhhh-chooo!”
Why it was one of the best: This divisive sneeze had people talking, that’s for sure. Detractors say that making the sound “ahhhhh-chooo” is the equivalent of a cow literally saying the word “moo”—like someone who learned about sneezing from a comic book and is trying desperately to join in on the human experience of reflexive bodily functions. Others called it “the platonic ideal of a sneeze.” Like it or not, Reginald produced one of the most-discussed sneezes of a great year for sneezing.

6. Burritos, September 2, at the dog park
The sound: “Ffffffff!”
Why it was one of the best: Awwwww. What’s cuter than a little doggy sneezing? Nothing, we say. And then the confused look on his little face, like, “where’d that sound come from?” Who’s a good boy?

5. Troy, November 9, at the office
The sound: “Tssssaaa!”
Why it was one of the best: It wasn’t so much the sneeze itself, but the reaction. Everyone in the cluster of cubicles surrounding Troy stopped what they were doing—mid-spreadsheet, mid-conversation, mid-web-browsing—to say “bless you.” The day after a contentious election, when some worried about the collapse of social norms, Troy’s co-workers proved that at least one tradition was going strong.

4. Beth, April 3, in English class
The sound: “Hee!”
Why it was one of the best: It was all timing. You had to be there. Dr. Barton was on another tirade about how no one had put in enough work on the latest essay assignment, and just as he did one of those pauses for dramatic effect and everyone got so silent because they were afraid of getting singled out for detention, Beth—whose eyes were watering because she was trying so hard to hold in the sneeze, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do—couldn’t hold it in anymore. Oh, man. It was so hilarious. We all laughed. Except Old Man Barton, that is!

3. Timothy, February 14, at the Italian restaurant
The sound: “Kerflow!”
Why it was one of the best: Cheryl thought she was finally dating a normal guy, but when she heard the absolutely bizarre sound Timothy made—he insisted it was a sneeze, but it sounded like he was possessed by a demon or something—she knew this relationship wasn’t built to last. Sometimes, the truth hurts. We’ve all been there.

2. Jeremy, August 30, at the wheel of his rental car
The sound: “Cha! … Whoa.”
Why it was one of the best: We were all having a great time in Portland—an amazing city—and surprised how much we were enjoying the Chevy Impala, which we only got because they were out of the midsize option. But when Jeremy briefly swerved because of his sneeze before getting control of the wheel again, we all became so much more present in the moment. It was one of those reminders that life is fragile and you need to be thankful for everything you have. And isn’t that why we listen for sneezes in the first place?

1. Carla, June 16, at the park
The sound: “Hoooo weee!”
Why it was the best: You want to know the truth? Carla’s publicist is very persistent—and a nice person—and we didn’t want to let her down. Don’t get us wrong, it was a good sneeze. But the idea that anyone can objectively identify the best sneeze is kind of insane.

Jonathan Zeller is a writer, editor, and comedian who has contributed to McSweeney’s, The New York Times, and Teen Vogue.

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