I get weird hiccups. I never get more than one, but the one that I get is usually loud and violent. It shakes my whole body, then it’s done. So if there are others around, I just say “excuse me,” and go on with my day.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to go. But you may recall that I work with an odd little woman that I call Yogurt. To summarize Yogurt: imagine that you’re trying to get into the White House for a tour. Before you is a Secret Service agent who doesn’t want to let you in, because they found out you’re one of my beloved readers. You want to bribe him, but all you’ve got is a pocket full of stale pretzels that you got from a suspicious-looking guy on the street. (For purposes of this analogy, you’re a little too trusting.) You offer the agent your pretzels, and he releases the dogs on you. The dogs ignore you and eat all your pretzels. That’s how you discover that your pretzels were laced with dangerous hallucinogens that you were unaware of, and the dogs wander off in a stupor and try to have sex with the first lady’s leg. In this scenario, the first lady’s leg can talk, so it’s screaming “Oh God, why me?”
This is what it’s like to have a conversation with Yogurt. In essence, you’re the leg, and the world makes no sense.
Back to our story. I hiccuped, I said “excuse me,” and I expected the world to join me in giving not a single melted damn about it. But that’s not how it turned out, because Yogurt follows a different script. She taught me how dangerous hiccups can be.
Yogurt brought her own interpretation to the event. She saw my “excuse me” as a confession of moral agony, and she immediately rushed over to console me. Very loudly.
“Oh it’s okay! don’t feel bad! Everybody do it! You eat too much and it come out, it’s no big deal, you don’t have to be embarrassed!”
What can you even say to something like that? There was almost no difference between what had happened and nothing. Only Yogurt had noticed my hiccup. But now everybody in the lobby was looking at me, wondering what bodily thing I was feeling so ashamed of. And she was still talking, still trying to soothe my distress, essentially repeating it all a few times. “It was only a hiccup,” I protested, hoping that would settle her down.
It did not. If you’ve read our recent Tales of Yogurt, you know that words don’t reach her. But the fact that I uttered words in her direction meant that I was engaging her. Encouraged, she expanded her theme with even greater vigor.
“It’s okay, it’s okay, don’t feel bad!” she enthused, even louder. “It’s like go to bathroom! Nobody want other people to know they go to bathroom, but everybody go to bathroom! It’s okay, you don’t have to be embarrassed about go to bathroom, it’s no big deal!”
That’s how I went from letting out a single hiccup to being noisily and publicly consoled, before an audience, for my shame about using the toilet.
That’s our Yogurt. Handle with care. Don’t make a sound.
Postscript: As of this posting, Yogurt has put in notice that she will be leaving my company, to go and seek her fortune as a telemarketer. Telephone owners, beware.