Anxiety heightened when peculiar words reach ears

Certain words make me cringe inside. Hearing my black-listed words is aural torture, and I make conscious efforts to avoid saying them or using them in conversation as best as I can.

Theresa Pfister, a&l editor

“The list of words that make me feel weird” started in high school, with “clippings.” For some reason, this word made my head tic and my skin crawl.

I think about giant silver scissors and the harsh, acerbic noise they make against the perforated edges of coupons. “Coupons” also puts me on edge. 

In fact, clippings started a whole progressive “c” word disparagement, most often involving the names of different types of food.

I get a little neck crick when I hear someone say cup, but add the phrase, “of coffee” and I am well on my to maximum phonological frustration.

My absolute abhorred “c” word simultaneously nurtures me and destroys me: cookies. My anxiety level even writing that word would measure about a 10.0 on a Richter scale. I would prefer if this word was removed from the Oxford English Dictionary and human language entirely.

“Cook” in and of itself is fine; it is solely the “ie” that drives me to throw my hands over my ears. If I had the ability to strangle words, cookie would be my first victim, followed by its carrot cupcake cousins.

Other food standouts involve various types of meat, something I do not eat much of. I almost flatlined once when I saw two short words sitting at the top of a Texas Roadhouse entrée list, “beef tips.”

Beef alone is acceptable, but not followed by tips. The two make an utterly horrendous pair. It has been a three-year battle with the beef tips complex, and I have yet to come to terms with it, and am not entirely sure if I ever will.

Another “double-decker” animal flesh infused food is the “what’s for dinner tonight?” meat loaf. There are so many things wrong with those two words. Anything purchased from a delicatessen usually evokes immense pain within my ears and brain. Ham, Braunschweiger and ring bologna should never be spoken aloud; simply motioning toward them is sufficient.

To top off the list of despised meats is a triple threat, “hamburger.” Ham speaks cringingly for itself, burger is just awkward to say, and to express it in an even more excruciating way, take off the “er” and make it “hamburg.”

I might lose my pulse for a second after a simple whisper of that ruthless word. 

Cheese might be comforting and delicious, but must be used with caution in conjunction with other words, such as cheese grits, cheese balls and cheese curds. Again, there are so many things wrong with the way those words sound together.

Words that describe food are just as irritating as the words themselves, like crusty, creamy, chunky, thick and moist.

Ointment has nothing entirely to do with food, but it’s just as painful to say and terrible to think about.

Plurals tend to make my heart rate rise, specifically words like, “desks” and “ghosts.” To me, there is an infuriatingly, inappropriate disconnect in the final consonants.

I don’t know what bothers me more, the actual sound these words make, or the fact that no one enunciates these types of words correctly, which doesn’t make sense because I shouldn’t want to hear words that rattle my existence.

It is hard for me to fathom that these biting words will continue to unfortunately subsist, but beef tips and cheese grits can’t crack my perfectly articulated and serene language reveries. Nothing can be worse than the sound of mayonnaise being stirred.

THERESA PFISTER

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