Too Much Grrr!

Yes, there is such a thing as Grrring too much.

Just the other night I was heading home on the train, listening to Dire Straits' "Industrial Disease" on my portable satellite radio. I kept grrrinding my teeth, fighting the urge to turn my head all the way around like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" to confront the Obliviot behind me talking too loudly on her cell phone.

It wasn't the conversation that was bothering me. I gave up the cell phone etiquette fight a long time ago. It's a useless cause.

What was killing me was the sibilance. Every S, Z, SH, C and J word this woman spoke went through me like nails on a chalkboard.

Siiii. Hisssh. Siiii. Hisssh. Siiii. Hisssh.

Every other second of her conversation was filled with that annoying hissing sound.

Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, so I turned around in my seat. I needed to at least see this person with my own eyes. I mean, who could be that annoying with their S words that they could pierce through my headphones and the ever-increasing volume of my music and stab me through the heart with each Hisssh?

It's not that I was going to say anything to her. What could I say? "Excuse me, ever hear of elocution class?" No, that wouldn't do any good. It would just come out as completely nutty. I just wanted to glare a little bit.

I wanted her to see that even with headphones on, her cell phone etiquette — or lack thereof — was permeating through.

And guess what?

There was nobody behind me talking on a phone.

In fact, there was nobody sitting in the seat behind me at all. I looked across the aisle, in front of me, even a few seats behind, and there was nary a cell phone in sight.

The Siiii, Siiii, Siiii that was driving me crazy was actually part of the percussion during the song that was playing on my radio.

There I was, turning up the volume to drown out the Obliviot behind me, and all the while, it was Dire Straits driving me nuts.

Yeah, I felt pretty stupid. Dire Strait Jackets might be a better classic rock band for me after that one.

It's not like I look for things to Grrr about. It's more that I have a low tolerance for these types of things, including innocent things, like sibilance. I mean, come on, nobody — except me perhaps — is conscious of sibilants in their speech.

Only a speech therapist or a frequent public speaker would be totally aware of it, actually. It's really more of a hiss sound.

What's worse, however, is that the notion of a woman talking on her cell phone, hitting every sibilant too strongly in her speech no less — is all too common.

At least, it's common enough to have me imagining the scenario to the point that I was agitated enough to try to drown her out by turning my volume way up and making myself go deaf, and then to try to actually seek her out for the evil glare.

I don't know. I just can't help it. Maybe it's time for a vacation.

My dentist already told me I've worn the enamel off my teeth. But then again, my jaw muscles — you know, the ones that protrude from your cheeks when you bite down — are perfectly formed from so much exercise.

Most people count sheep when they're trying to go to sleep. Me? I like to bite down on my teeth as hard as I can. Been doing it forever.

Oh well, at least I have the Grrr! column and all of your e-mails to help keep me sane.

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