Like a lot of socially anxious people, I don’t walk into rooms or parties wanting to be noticed— and lets be honest— with social anxiety I rarely walk into parties in the first place. I would much rather be on a walk with a close friend or reading a good book. I don’t like to be loud, because I am noise sensitive and also because more people would listen and probably look at me. It is not that I am antisocial, I have friends who I will guffaw and get into heated arguments with, but never in crowded and/or public places. And like a subgroup of the previously mentioned socially anxious people, I am in some ways fucking goofy that are hard to ignore.
I get hiccups, sometimes in a row, and sometimes only one in a day. I don’t know why, and I don’t know why if I try and hold my breath with my mouth closed to keep from making a sound it feels like my temples have discovered they are star-crossed lovers and try to fight through the wall that is my brain and other important bits to be closer together. This is a romantic way to say that I feel pressure in my temples and it is very temporary but also very painful to suppress hiccups.
This wouldn’t be so unfortunate if my hiccups were normal “hic” sounds or even cute girlie “squeaks” at a regular or soft volume, as a fair number of hiccups are. Unfortunately, my hiccups sound like I have taken the cute mouse that makes people’s hiccups sound dainty, swallowed it whole, and when I hiccup that mouse is screaming its shrill head off with a killer set of lungs to be freed.
My friends know that hiccups are hiccups, they are a weird inexplicable function that happens to people and even animals and usually politely ignore them. Occasionally someone will forget and be startled and say something amusing like “I’m excited too!” In a room of strangers and acquaintances the best case scenario is that a few people will look out the windows or up at the vents for the cause of the howling mouse, but often times someone will notice that my mouth was open at the time that the tiniest battle cry was issued and I rocked back on my heels a slight bit and they will exclaim “Was that you?!” At which point anyone else in the room will swivel their heads as I mumble “It was a hiccup.”
I can tell who has known me and actually paid attention to me, because I usually try to blend in to the scenery, and I have had more than one person tell me when my hiccups come up “Oh, I thought you were trying to get attention.” I am a little alarmed by this, because what other people are in their lives who sound like a gerbil soprano? Also, other than the occasional bright orange t-shirt, I am not loud.
I get separated from friends regularly in stores because something will catch my attention and I will stop or turn down the aisle with the item and forget to say something like “I am going here now.” For two weeks after getting a cashier position and talking to people over the sound of sandwiches being made and chatty sandwich buyers I came home sounding like Kermit the Frog if he was losing his voice. It’s not that I grew up with the intention of being quiet, I just usually am. Except in the split-seconds that I really am not.
Some people say “That is awesome!” and other people ask me “Have you seen a doctor about that?” Which is ridiculous, because I think if I went to the doctor and said “My hiccups sound like someone’s trying to squeeze pee out of a hamster with a UTI who is super bitchy” they will diagnose me as being part cartoon character. I also know another woman who has squeaky hiccups. Like me she is quiet and soft spoken when her body is not committing embarrassment to its consciousness. She taught me how to blame everything else for hiccups, and now when I squeak and catch a friend off guard I will suavely point to the plant. It was him!