I have misophonia.
Okay, I might not have misophonia. I am self-diagnosed. I might just be an intolerant grump. But these are the sounds I cannot bear:
- Husband breathing in bed next to me
- Husband eating muesli
- Children biting their nails
- Anyone eating anything
- Any unwavering, monotonous noise
- Soup slurping
- Extreme throat clearing
- Husband snoring
- My snoring
- Children picking toenails
- Tea slurping.
The most overwhelmingly irritating racket is that of people overtly eating and drinking. “Overtly”. I mean, I don’t have a problem with people eating in public, I don’t have a problem with actually being able to see them. The overtness is in the audio effect, the flippin’ sound.
My response to these noises wavers between nausea and sheer, unadulterated displeasure. My breathing can become uneven, my skin prickles with irritation. I become hypersensitive, edgy, judgemental, prickly… Hey, just thesaurus1 these words and you’ll find all the other tetchy things I become.
Which is where Japan comes in. I have been led to believe that I can expect a degree of miso soup slurping by diners in restaurants. This is, of course, totally acceptable. (From the amount of visible and audible eating in the UK one would almost think it was acceptable here, too…) My antipathy will be a wholly personal one. I mean, you don’t see this as a problem, do you? This is the provincial delirium of a snob, right?
Well, probably. Sigh. So, picture this snob, sitting in a restaurant, surrounded by the delicate fragrances of beguilingly spiced food, faced with the simple angles and zen cleanliness of its design and layout… unable to eat as my stomach churns in queasy revolt thanks to the gurgling, discordant guzzling of the man on the next table.
Ach, who am I kidding? That’s a scenario I face in my own kitchen every day. Japan will be no different.
1 I am very well aware that to “thesaurus” is not a verb. Whatevs.