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Put it Down to My Condition

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Is it weird to be pleased to discover that one has a "condition"? I never even suspected until this morning, and now I'm feeling quite gratified, because suddenly I have an explanation for a variety of personal traits I've long been aware of, but never thought to connect to each other.

Let me explain.When friends talk about the mani/pedi thing, I'm always left out of the conversation, and if I mention that I've never had a manicure or my feet tended to, they look at me strangely. Okay, that may say something about my friends, as well as about me, but there you are. That's the situation.The reason is that, for as long as I can remember, I have been unable to tolerate the sound of a nail file. It sends me screaming from the room and I've startled people in the past who've innocently taken out an emery board to deal with a sudden nail emergency and are faced with an otherwise normal woman urgently, almost hysterically, begging them not to proceed. The result is that I've had to manage my nail growth with the help of my teeth for my entire life, but that's another story. Strike one.

Another thing that has been with me for as long as I can remember is extreme discomfort in the presence of people who eat noisily, with open mouth and chomping sound effects. I will move my seat, if possible, so as not to be near these people, and my husband knows that if we're going to be sharing a table with certain friends and relations he has to take the seat closest to them. I remember a potential suitor who was ruled out at our first meeting, as soon as he started on a handful of nuts. Nothing about him, nothing that he had, said or did could have saved the situation after that. Strike two.

I have a problem around music, which I love. I've now learned simply to keep my mouth closed when certain popular singers and well-regarded orchestras come up for discussion."You don't like Barbra Streisand or Rita? What's the matter with you? They screech? What are you talking about?" Or "Why don't you have a subscription to the Raanana Symphonette if you love music so much?" "Because I prefer to pay more and go less often to the Israel Philharmonic." "But our local orchestra is so good nowadays. They've improved a lot." "Actually, no. Every time I try, I regret it.I hear second rate playing and wrong notes. It's just no pleasure for me." End of discussion, as I'm written off as a music snob. Strike three.

More recent manifestations include an awareness that I find the way some broadcasters talk so irritating that I switch off the radio rather than listen to them.It's not necessarily regional accents that do it; there are some of those I love and some I find ugly, but I can tolerate them.It's mostly what's known as Estuary English, which has become an acceptable way to meld Cockney, traditionally spoken by uneducated Londoners, with the speech of formerly well-spoken young people who want to mix with their less educated peers without standing out as snobbish or upper class. It's the vowel sounds I can't bear. Shaw's Professor Higgins would understand. S trike four.

And finally, there's modern technology and the new trend for computerized voices to be used in advertising and other broadcasts.I always recognize it and am surprised when others don't. But the one that I can't deal with is the voice one hears in the Hebrew version of Waze. If I find myself in a car with a driver who's using it, I'm in big trouble.It is sheer torture for me to feel trapped, to have to listen to it and I have at times considered opening the car door and rolling out, to escape. Strike five.

Suddenly, this morning, it occurred to me that while many people may share one or more of my pet hates, to suffer so badly from so many of them is not normal, so not normal that maybe it's a "condition". So I Googled and learned that I suffer from "misophonia", a recognized medical condition, sometimes related to tinnitus, which I also have. Sufferers are advised to talk to their doctors although there is no known treatment. Maybe some kind of therapy or just talking about it might help. I don't need any of that. From time to time I suffer, and I cope; it's just that I'm pleased to find out that I'm not a particularly grumpy, difficult, snobby person with high standards that nobody could possibly be expected to meet.Or maybe I am, but now I have a "condition" to excuse it.As we say in English, a result! 

Can’t stand those Hebrew voices on the Israeli Waze
Switch off the radio because of the irritating voices
Hate hearing wrong notes played at classical concerts
Feel uncomfortable when people chomp their food

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Friday, 25 September 2020

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