nothing to sneeze at Dear Kid,

Alas my young one, it appears you are learning one of the Lessons of Life: Not every day at every job is a slice of heaven.

There are days when work is (for lack of a better term) work. Even people blessed with truly loving their jobs have days they could Easily Do Without.

Very few of us have figured out how to get paid for watching YouTube videos and eating brownies. Since most of us require an income in order to keep kibble in the proverbial puppy dish, we have had to find Income Opportunities.

Important: Relying on the Tooth Fairy to provide you with a steady income only works if you have figured out how to continually grow teeth (like a shark) and negotiated a reasonable per tooth rate.

Important #2: Buying lottery tickets in hopes of Winning Big only increases your odd minimally over not buying tickets.

From the Department of Silver Linings, there is good news about having a bad day at work: it means you are fortunate enough to have a job in the first place and that is nothing to sneeze at.

Speaking of nothing to sneeze at, in 17th century England people believed that sneezing cleared the brain (I personally have never felt particularly brain-cleansed after a sneeze, but then again I have never lived in 17th century England). Sneezing became important-like checking your smart phone every 17 seconds. Actually, more like checking your latest and greatest and newest i-device every 17 seconds because the more you sneezed the more you proved you were part of the upper section of the crust. Wealthy people carried around fancy boxes of snuff (tobacco) or herbs that when sniffed caused great sneezing. (A Pinch of Snuff is a tale for another day.)

Anyhoo, sooner rather than later a sneeze came to mean you disapproved of something or were bored (see? Like checking your phone when Others Are Present). Wherefore and hence, therefore and ergo “nothing to sneeze at” means something is important and/or worthy of attention.

“But,” you ask still stuck in the previous paragraph, “where does the phrase ‘upper crust’ come from?” (I just love when you ask questions like that.)

Back to the 1500s. There is a lovely bit of nonsense that says loaves of bread were divided with the workers getting the burnt bottom crust, the family getting the middle of the loaf, and guests getting the upper crust. Or—according to a different version of the tale—workers getting the bottom and the aristocracy getting the upper crust. Either way it’s a bunch of hooey because who keeps a baker that regularly burns the bread? Ridiculous. Also, while some people may enjoy the crusty part, there are plenty of us who prefer the middle part of the loaf. Just ask any mom who has ever cut crusts off a pb&j sandwich. (Don’t look at me—I believe in spreading both the pb and the j all the way to the edge of the bread and expecting children to eat the entire sandwich.)

According to one source, upper crust didn’t come to mean the gentry until the 19th century (my, we are having quite a ride through history today, aren’t we?). Prior to that it referred to the crust of the earth or person’s hat. Or possibly even the top of a loaf of bread.

“Wherefore and hence, therefore and ergo” is from Candide, and thanks to the Best of All Possible Uncles, the clip is here for your viewing pleasure. Extra points if you know what else the composer wrote composed.

Wherefore and hence, therefore and ergo I hope tomorrow is a better day at work.

Love, Mom

Leonard Bernstein who wrote the score for Candide also composed West Side Story.