Column

I can hear you, you skin-picking freaks

I am constantly repulsed by my fellow human beings. Shamelessly waddling around indulging in self-congratulatory grooming. Noses, nails, hair, genitals; scratching, picking, cracking, plucking. These people are grotesque and they seem only to disgust me. As a child I was brought up to be seen and heard in abundance. My verbal output was astonishing and I was encouraged to speak for myself, think for myself and carve my path to success in loud happy words. “Yes! No! Thank you! Let’s go to the zoo!” But small noises on the other hand, small noises were to be discouraged at all costs. Bananas were particularly reprehensible.

I can remember Saturday afternoons when I was watching Scooby Doo and Mum was reading next to me. “Can I have a snack?” I asked. “Sure,” she replied. “Go grab a piece of fruit.” On bringing back a banana I was sent away again, charged with eating the offending item alone in the hall. Only with that barrier of brick between us was my mother relieved of the slurpy smacking of a six year old with a banana. That is food etiquette at its finest, and every child should be taught its eating-place.

To the sin of gratuitous fruit eating you can add any small fidgety movements that you thought made no sound – clamorous thumb sucking and deafening hair twiddling. If you thought these were silent indulgences, I assure you, you were wrong. The very movement of the air particles is enough to disrupt the peace of any being of heightened sensitivity. Such was my childhood that I dared not take up nail biting until I left home. Even now I only do it at times of great stress, and always absolutely alone.

Let us take a moment to consider leprosy. In biblical times lepers were cruelly outcast. The prevailing misconception that leprosy was highly infectious meant that lepers were pariahs, essentially due to being a little less than an oil painting. So undeserving, especially when you consider (which I always do) the noise-making implications. Other than the gentle thud of a finger hitting the ground, leprosy is blessedly silent. The common cold, on the other hand, is a veritable cacophony of hawking and hacking. Common as the cold is, it plagues us all, though perhaps if one took more care to put some clothes on before going to Gallery it would plague far fewer. In the infamous words of my father, “are you wearing a vest with that?”

Ultimately nobody wanted to sit around looking at lepers, so why do I have to put up with listening to snivelling infirms? We’re such an openly vain society that we will quickly condemn for their visuals, but we put up with listening to a lot of crap. A bulbous nose or prominent mole is enough to lose someone Facebook friends, but day in day out we put up with listening to the misinformed, the malign and the ill, with all their grating speech impediments and graphic phlegm movements.

I of course went through my period of noisy rebellion. Rampaging through the house sniffing like a hound, grinding my teeth like a drug addict and raining banana eating fury upon my mother. But she was patient, she knew I would settle. Take a moment to look around you at York, we are surrounded by the children of dogmatic parents kicking against their past. Observe the Tory kid trying his hand at socialism, the country bumpkin gone “ghetto” and the vegan hippy child sneaking off to McDonalds. Eventually they too will learn the inevitable. We don’t become our parents: we always were them. My obsession with twitching and all it’s awful sound effects is nothing new. I distinctly remember sitting in French at the tender age of thirteen, contemplating mass murder as I stared at my classmate picking her face. Not just picking it, I hasten to add, but rubbing thickly and wetly into the picked pores. I could actually see the grease sliding round her face. Later she would offer me a Malteser with her sticky stubby fingers. I would decline.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over the complete lack of any discerning sense of propriety in communal bodily functions. But I will always maintain that it’s rational, reasonable even, and I’d go so far as to say good for society, to throw things at people who crack their knuckles, and to insist that any kind of picking, scraping and twiddling only to be done in private. It’s masturbation; gratifying but you wouldn’t do it on a bus. There’s a fine line between hereditary superiority and madness. Handed down to me through my parents, I can utilise my genetic super-power of heightened aural awareness.

If you don’t understand it to be a super-power, then I’m probably already looking for you. You are the miscreant satisfying your animal grooming tendencies in public. I can hear you, from the other side of the bus, from six seats behind you in a lecture theatre and from outside your window. I am quietly taking a mental note of every single deviant who can’t keep their hands folded neatly in their laps. Nobody needs to see you tearing those tiny bits of skin off from round your cuticle, sucking them clean and then polishing your bloody nail stumps. You make me sick.

This week, ████ will mostly be…

Walking instead of riding a bicycle, because mending a puncture is utterly beyond me. Not literally beyond me, I am not an idiot; I am capable of doing it. Furthermore, I am not a princess; I am perfectly willing to break a nail. I am, however, an arts student, which means I simply do not have the time.

Whilst still a whippersnapper, all untucked shirt and high sitting rucksack, I was a machine. In one lunch break I could attend two music rehearsals, eat my sandwiches, finish my IT coursework and still find time to skulk illegally in the changing rooms with a packet of skittles and a copy of Cosmo. Now I have to ruthlessly schedule time slots or else whole days slip through my fingers. Who would have thought that Neighbours and doing some washing could so completely fill a day?

Last week I woke up to find a post-it to myself from the to-do list fairies. The message said to post a letter and I posted it good. Up at nine, off to post office, and then lunch at one. I have no idea what happened in between. I’m pretty certain I had no time to do anything else.

So that settles it. I will never have time to mend my bike. Walking is my fate. The fact that it takes three times as long to walk to campus than it does to ride has no measure on it. The fact that I discovered the puncture day one of this term and it is now week six also should be of little consequence. Adults certainly don’t understand how difficult life can be as a student. Either because they are deluding themselves that their own degrees consisted of nine to five hard graft and efficiency, or else they come from the ‘old school’. In which case I too should have left school at sixteen and learned some bloody discipline.

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