Conditions of the mind can be touchy subjects; no one wants to hear that you have suppressed feelings for your grandpa which make it difficult to watch hair color for men commercials. However, when an issue impacts those around you, I feel it’s best to come clean and I think I may be ready to do so, with you, my close and personal friends.
(See how awkward that felt? That was me proving my keep-your-crazy-stuff-to-yourself theory. You can breathe now.)
I suffer from (keep breathing) Misophonia. I will pause to allow time for people to gasp, clasp their hands over their mouths and try to hide tears as they pretend to know what I’m talking about…
Misophonia is a condition where the sound of another person’s chewing incites a rage akin to that of your candidate losing the Presidential election; the difference being that people chew constantly, in virtually every arena of life, some even continue in their sleep, whereas half the country is incited to vacate the premises every four years, eight at the most. So, Misophonia is much worse.
This is an actual condition, first brought to the public’s attention by fellow sufferer, Kelly Ripa, who has bravely reported that the sound of her husband’s chewing has brought her to the brink of murder on more than one occasion. I have to wonder, however if her husband considered her less brave than coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs, which, unfortunately make a crunchy sound thus setting a vicious circle into play.
Before the Ripa revelation, I wasn’t aware that I had a condition; I mistook my rage as a justifiable reaction to people selfishly disturbing my inner peace by nourishing themselves. Fortunately, for those of you who awoke today and thought, “I wonder if I have Misophonia,” a foolproof test has been developed to determine whether the world is out to make you crazy (paranoia) or the more subtle condition of Misophonia is your cross to bear.
I am going to recite the lyrics of a well known jingle; Afterward, any diagnostic questions will be cleared. Ready?
Give me a break. Give me a break. Break me off a piece of that @#$% Kit Kat Bar. (I improvised a little, but this won’t effect the test.)
Here’s the question: Is your response; hmm, I’d like one of those crunchy confections to satisfy my sweet tooth? If so, Mazel tov! You are not afflicted.
However, if the same commercial makes you want to track down every person involved in the making of this diabolical tour’d force of torturous consumption and slowly twist the life from their bodies until they promise never to chew into a microphone again, there’s a chance that you may suffer from Misophonia.
I know what you’re thinking; You poor dear, how have you managed to live with this debilitating affliction? I appreciate that, but I don’t need your sympathy, I need you to stop chewing; you and your masticating ilk. However, since there is little chance of that, I’d like to share a few coping methods I’ve developed which don’t include murder.
One: always have a source of noise available when dining with loved ones. Music or television (sans Kit Kat commercials) works, putting your fingers in your ears and comparing your loved one to cows does not…for them. It works fine for me.
Two: store weaponry away from the television area. TVs are expensive and you can only destroy a few before your spouse starts to notice the credit card bill.
Third: either avoid the movies, or see Sci-fi or Adventure films with continual explosions to mask the popcorn cacophony.
I have developed these methods because I love my family, despite their continuation of a practice which clearly disturbs me. For those of you who chew ice or snap gum in public, know that there are people with Misophonia who are not as stable as I am, so consider mending your ways, or else. I don’t know exactly what else but understand that some people watch Dexter and take notes.
If you are living with someone who suffers from this malady, there are ways you can help; stop eating. If you aren’t willing to make that small sacrifice, then you’ve no one to blame but yourself when your Misophoniac (take that spell check) writes a blog exposing your selfishness to the world.
“Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.” Ernest Hemingway
This quote has little to do with the following tirade except for the fact that when I travel, I eat too much thereby expanding my nether regions. Also, I recently visited Florida, which is not Illinois where I keep my bed so it counts as travel.
I am writing this on the plane home, so please excuse me if I rant, pout or suddenly trail off, which is to say you’ll probably won’t notice anything different.
As is almost always the case, when I am torn, kicking and screaming from my home, I inevitably enjoy myself once the flying elbow to elbow part is over, a lesson I’ve yet to fully integrate and seriously doubt that I will, at least not this life time. Still, whether I like it or not, vacations can be fun and educational and, because I care, I’ll share my knowledge, sparing you the less than relaxing experience of flying with someone’s head on your tray table. (Note to seat tilters: this behavior singles you out as an insensitive lout who should never be considered as date material, let alone all the good stuff and I don’t mean pretzels.) Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
Florida is the land of alligators and people in pick up trucks who seemingly have dire emergencies which require them to whip out in front of you from cross streets and then, just as suddenly, decide a more leisurely pace (20 or so miles under the speed limit) will do just fine.
It is also the only part of the country that, when I refer to the elderly, I’m not talking about myself. In fact, I feel almost sprightly there and it’s not just because my husband’s brother and his wife have moved into an “active adult” community near Kissimmee, (which is not pronounced as if an Italian were demanding a smooch. You’ll need to look up the correct pronunciation, however as I never mastered it, my Sister-in-law’s patient tutelage.)
The reason I felt spring chicken-esque is that I walked through the center’s dining hall and, not to offend my in-laws who are less than old, everyone leaning over their meals had at least 15 years on me. This rarely happens anywhere else which is why, despite the blatant lack of ocean, the trip was totally worth it.
However, if I wanted to continue to feel superior about being dropped onto the earth at a later date than most people there, I have to avoid asking residents, “So, what’ve you been up to?” Each and every person I’ve met at this facility (OK, my in-laws) are much like the Marines in that they do more before 7am than I do all day. And in my defense, everybody does more than I do all day, but still.
The residents of this land where two stories houses are not welcome, receive a list of activities every month in a magazine called Reflections; a quick perusal puts the list at about 150 choices. Of course, all but nine or ten of them involve playing cards and/or red hats. Yet it’s a much longer list than mine which usually includes typing stuff and playing cards online which rarely requires hats of any sort although it is not without precedent.
Another observation I made is that, outside of the metro Orlando area, the color schemes are overwhelming diverse. They run the gamut from beige to ecru with an occasional rebellion of terra cotta. The folks at Benjamin Moore must be sniffing turpentine just to keep themselves awake.
There is also a shortage of kids and not just inside the community gates. Even those places where children can normally found in abundance, (Target and restaurants which are meant to to be peaceful escapes) seem devoid of unhappy, screaming toddlers. Perhaps Disney World is a vacuüm which sucks the temporarily height challenged from the immediate area. I fleetingly glimpsed a small child outside of a home, but he was quickly whisked away, perhaps to avoid his otherwise inevitable arrival at the land of Mickey Mouse. Once again, however, I was staying at an Active Adult Community and nothing makes adults less energetic than the presence of children which would defeat the whole “active” purpose.
The fauna of Florida is a learning experience and I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way. The wild life here is abundant and I’m not talking about movie night in the village auditorium. There are actual alligators here who take a dislike to you for no apparent reason; perhaps it’s the whole leather thing. Anyway, it’s best not to greet them in a friendly manner or your ability to wave could be cut in half.
There are also tall grey birds with red heads who meander across lawns as if they are not really, really weird-looking.
Squirrels here have no self-respect. They are not racing across roads instigating close encounters with cars to find and store life saving sustenance for the long winter, as all self-respecting squirrels are required to do here in the Midwest. They are a leisurely species in Florida and, as far as I can tell, refrain from burying their nuts in places which they will forget until the ground thaws, (a behavior which creates kinship between squirrels, as I often put things “away” never to find them again until, well never.)
Anyway, these squirrels have no need to prepare for the winter, so they apparently spend all their time at the gym. They look a bit like Kate Moss in a fur coat without giving PETA the overwhelming urge to throw paint on them.
And geckos, which are more abundant than AARP memberships in this part of the world, do not speak with an Australian accent, in fact, in all the time I spent there, they had absolutely nothing to say, despite my repeated attempts to initiate conversations; perhaps because I don’t patronize their insurance company.
Although my final point is of no use to anyone who isn’t related to me, my sister and brother-in-law could make a living teaching schlubs like me how to entertain. We ate, shopped and were generally merry despite an occasional pout on my part because Orlando lacks an ocean and the only ocean readily available had a terrible house guest named Sandy arrive at the same time we were meant to.
Sandy hit the east coast as we flew into Chicago, shaking our flight a bit, and making a wreck of the East Coast, which makes me feel a bit guilty for hating the head-on-my-tray- table-guy for the trip back. As a result and because, we have light and heat in my home, I’m going to send money to the Red Cross and stay home for a while.