The Speed of a Sneeze

The Guilty

One of the things we will do before turning in for the evening is watch a little bit of TV before going to bed, usually the evening news.  As is her habit, Gracie the cat will settle in between the two of us and sometimes actually watch television with us.  No kidding—the cat will actually watch TV!

So, there we were, all snug on the couch, watching the news.

And then it happened.  I am sure it has happened to you also.  You know, that sneeze that seemingly comes from nowhere without any warning whatsoever.  It just happens! 

In terms of ferocity and surprise, it was a shocking sort of sneeze. 

Imagine if you will, a serene picture such as two people and a cat enjoying the pleasure of everyone’s company on a comfortable couch.  All is quiet, except for the low volume of the television, the subdued voice of the newscaster, and the purring of the cat.  As horrible as things are in the world, things are okay in the darkness of the livingroom in the glow of the television.

And then it happens.

The sneeze.

It comes out of nowhere, completely unannounced.  At the speed of a sneeze…

The Internet is an amazing thing that you must take with a very large grain of salt.  I started thinking about what kind of airspeed a sneeze could produce and was amazed with some of the answers the Internet provided.

At one point, I discovered the speed of a typical sneeze was 85 percent the speed of sound!  Wow!  Mach .85 right out through the nostrils on your face!  According to, “The average is about 90mph.  The fastest recorded sneeze was 102mph.”

The slowest answer, on Wikipedia, was about 35 mph.  (I like the idea of Mach .85—it seemed more appropriate at the moment The Sneeze came out of my head.)  The really funny thing about The Sneeze was the cat.  What do you think that cat did?

Actually, I did not have the chance to see the cat.  To be honest, by the time I was able to open my eyes after involuntarily closing them for The Sneeze, that cat was gone!

I have no idea of what the actual velocity of The Sneeze might have been.  All I know is that by the time I was able to see anything a split second after The Sneeze, the lady of the house was bent over and moaning while gripping her leg trying to stave off the bleeding.  Evidently, Gracie used her thigh as a launch pad for getting traction to escape the ravages of The Sneeze.  The cat was nowhere to be found.

Instead, wafting in the airspace between us was a tuft of Gracie’s fur.


© 2011 J. Clark

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1 Response to The Speed of a Sneeze

  1. flyinggma says:

    Ouch! I hope Ardis is okay. It is amazing the speed of a sneeze. Someone once told me that if you try to keep your eyes open during a sneeze they would pop out. Probably not true but I don’t want to find out.

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