My First World Problems: The Hiccups
Harry Menear | Entertainment Editor | February 21, 2012
We say a lot of things without thinking.
As creatures of habitual ritual interactions, human beings go about their days regurgitating pleasantries and platitudes that have been deemed appropriate for set situations. Humans say hello – or any one on innumerable variations, ranging from “Good Afternoon” to “Sup Bro” – when encountering other human beings, and goodbye when these encounters come to an end.
Most of what goes on in between is either the individuals striving to find common ground, talking about experiences they have had, or reliving experiences they have had together.
Occasionally one of the participants in the conversation will sneeze. At which point, anybody within earshot responds with the mother of all stock phrases: “Bless You.”
This is an interesting example of a spiritual expression turned secular; “God Bless You” used to be a handy way of keeping malignant demons from flying up your friend’s nose. But I’m a fire and brimstone atheist, and when somebody sneezes in class even I utter the phrase – albeit without the “God” part – as a general expression of goodwill.
Now I’m not writing to suggest that we eliminate what is, despite the religious affiliation, an essentially nice thing to say. What I want to talk about though, is the hiccups. Unless they are a recent phenomenon that developed along with the invention of fizzy drinks, they are a bodily function that has been around for as long as there have been bodies to make the cute little “hic”ing noise.
We say “Bless You” when people sneeze, we say “Pardon Me” when we burp, but when my classmate is paralyzed for the entire class period with a raging case of the hiccups, I have to sit awkwardly by, powerless to utter the magic words that will make everything all better.
I propose that a phrase be created that, once enough people start saying it, will help those poor, unfortunate afflicted get over their crippling hiccups, and on with their busy lives.