Saturday, February 4, 2017


There is a particular sound I have always hated. Ever since I was just a wee Fred I remember it making my flesh crawl. It makes me angry because it irritates me so much. It's not something that bothers many other people. Not like fingernails on a blackboard. Never had a problem with that.

Whether a sound irritates a lot of us or just you, it's called misophonia. I just found out about that yesterday, thanks to the always-interesting Mental Floss.

This stuff has been studied a lot. Newcastle University tested many irritating sounds to find out which were the most irritating:

There are all pretty bad. Two that I'm surprised are not in the top ten, however, are a dental drill and someone eating noisily. Those drive me nuts.

If the dentist's drill sounded like a cello, I would not mind going to see him, despite the pain and the floss-shaming and the money.

I used to work near a guy who, like me, ate at his desk a lot. I've always been a pretty quiet eater. It's the one thing that the ladies liked about me. Even women who dumped me were probably thinking, "I'll never find another man who eats as quietly as Fred does." But the guy at the desk next to mine was the loudest, slobberingest, slurpingest, lip-smackingest slob I've ever heard. He was a nice guy and funny, and I enjoyed talking with him, but when he'd come back to his desk with a paper bag I would cringe. I was always surprised when people invited him to lunch. Don't do it, you FOOLS! I wanted to cry. Or bring earplugs.

In an earlier piece on misophonia, Mental Floss explained that it was unclear whether the phenomenon was distinct or a part of another mental illness. I have to wonder about that. So many people get really distressed by certain annoying sounds that you'd think it has to be more widespread than even a fairly common mental illness like depression. Perhaps the degree of annoyance is the key, though. Like, if you get annoyed by chalk squeaking on a blackboard you're normal, but if you take it personally, you're nuts.

Should I divulge what sound makes me crazy? I don't go full Banner on it, but it does make me want to scream, and if I'm alone in the car with the radio on and I hear it in a beer commercial, oh I will scream.

It's the sound of liquid being poured into a glass. Some people find it appealing, which makes the commercials worse, because they draw that sound out to make it alluring. I hate it like poison. No idea why. I don't think I was traumatized by a glass of water as a child. I don't mind waterfalls and streams and showers. But pour that water in a glass, and brother, you may have a fight on your hands.

Fortunately it's a sound that doesn't last long. I read that some people get all wacky at the sound of rain. That would be a bad thing.

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