I ask this question in total sincerity. A gentleman with whom I (also male) have a mutual interest in companionship told me that he becomes sexually aroused when an attractive man sneezes. He said it makes no difference whether the sneeze is authentic or simulated. (He has never asked me to “fake” one for him; I told you, he’s a gentleman. And no, as fate would have it, my allergies have remained in check during the times we’ve been together, so I’ve not had occasion to observe his reaction firsthand.) My friend tells me that other folks, gay and straight, have this fetish. I’d like to learn more about this behavior, but I don’t know how to research this. Can you help?

–Greg, Arlington, Virginia

Greg, you shock me. What do you mean, you don’t know how to research this? This is why God gave us the Internet, which has done more to liberate human sexuality than any technology since Saran Wrap. Type “sneeze fetish” into Yahoo! and a few nanoseconds later you get the following:

Society and Culture>Sexuality>Fetishes>Sneezing

Yahoo! Clubs: Sneeze Fetish–celebrating the sensual sneeze.

Sneezing Web Ring.

Tarot of Sneezing, The–sneezing is mysterious and exciting, and should be treated as the beautiful art it is.

Sneeze ‘Fic Archive–archive for mailing list of the same name.

Sneezing Fetish Online–dedicated to the fetish of the human sneeze.

Diary of a Sneeze Fetishist–exploring the origins, development and impact of one woman’s fetish for sneezing.

Serotica–Dedicated to fiction combining sneezing and sensuality.

I haven’t changed a word, I swear. The best part is the taxonomy at the top (“society and culture,” etc), which suggests that the geniuses who run the Internet have categorized the totality of human experience. “And what do you do?” “I classify sex fetishes for Yahoo!”

Erotic sneezing isn’t as bizarre as it might seem. Sneezing does have a certain ejaculatory quality, after all. Longtime readers will recall our column about the woman who sneezed after every orgasm (and apparently she’d had a lot of orgasms), which we attributed to “erectile tissue” in the nose becoming engorged with blood at the same time as other erectile organs.

That said, there’s no denying sensuous sneezers are a little different. Some excerpts from the diary listed above (diaryofasneezefetishist.homestead.com/ diary_contents.html): “I do know that my first love of sneezing came from the Smurfs. I doubt anyone else ever looked twice at a little blue sneezing midget (aptly named Allergic Smurf), but I remember seeing him in a few episodes of my then-favourite cartoon (I must have been, what, all of four or five years old) and thinking he was the best Smurf ever…. Then, there was that scene in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland–the one where Alice is trapped inside White Rabbit’s house and has her nose tickled by smoke. I remember sitting entranced in front of the television set, watching that scene over and over and over again…. As I grew older, I kept on watching out for sneezes on television shows. If I happened to see one, I would rush over to where the blank cassettes in our house lay and whip one out for the express purpose of taping the sneezes….Still innocent, I had no idea that sneezing was actually getting me completely, amazingly, and unabashedly hot.”

The rest you can guess for yourself. She marries a guy with “the most adorable stifled sneeze I’ve ever heard.” But they divorce because “there was a hell of a lot more to making a relationship work than enjoying a great guy’s sneezing over the weekends.” So true! Eventually she gets a couple lucky breaks: (1) she discovers a sneezing fetish club on the Internet, and (2) she meets a guy with…photic sneeze reflex! Will she tell him about her strange desires? Will he freak out or get into it? (Suggested line from my assistant Jenny: “Is that a pepper mill in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”) You’ll just have to read and find out. While you’re at it, visit Sneezing Fetish Online at www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/ Boardwalk/8296/, which includes sound files, pictures, and movies of people sneezing. Don’t miss the one of the runway model in the allergy commercial–you won’t believe the hay fever on that one.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Slug Signorino.