“God bless you,” Hardison and Eliot said in unison as Sophie nudged a box of tissues towards Nate.
Parker frowned. “Why?”
“Why what?” Hardison asked.
“Why does Nate need to be blessed? It’s just a sneeze.”
Hardison shrugged. “I dunno, it’s just something you do. Like saying please and thank you.”
“But it doesn’t make sense,” Parker said. “Please and thank you make sense.”
Sophie looked up from the fashion magazine she was perusing. “My mum told me it goes back to the bubonic plague. If someone sneezed, it meant they weren’t long for the world, so it was like offering a prayer for their departing soul.”
“That’s morbid,” Parker said, smiling. “I like it.”
“It’s also wrong,” Nate interjected. “It goes back at least as far as the Roman Empire. They believed the heart stopped momentarily whenever you sneezed, so saying bless you was an acknowledgement of its successful restart.”
“So it’s like saying congratulations for not dying of a sneeze?” Parker said. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“My nana always said it was because people used to believe you could accidentally expel your soul when you sneezed,” Hardison offered. “You said bless you to keep Satan from snatching the soul away.”
“I take it back, THAT’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Parker said.
“What do you say, Eliot?” Hardison asked. “Why do you say bless you after someone sneezes?”
Eliot didn’t even look up from the football game he was watching on the TV. “It’s what my mama raised me to do. All I ever needed to know.”
“AHH-CHOO," Nate sneezed loudly.
“God bless you,” Hardison and Eliot said.
“Congratulations!” Parker chirped.