live from the cafe: a hissssssy fit

Ssssssssssss. Sssssssss.


That’s the sound emanating from the teeth, tongue and lips of the petite Asian woman seated beside me at the cafe.

She’s reading aloud from her book. Her lips are moving and the only sounds audible are her S’s.

S as in Sheer Torture!

S as in Shut Up!

S as in Silence. And don’t I wish!

For more than an hour her hushed S’s have been filtering into my ears like annoying buzzing gnats.

Like microscopic snakes hissing and slithering their way through my ear canals and burrowing into my brain.

Like tiny ticks dancing the salsa in an endless loop in the tissues of my skull.

Don’t sssssssuggest I change sssssssseatssssss. I’ve got the only electrical outlet available in the cafe and I’ve pushed the chair asssss far from her assssss posssssssible.

Ssssooooo what do you sssssay to sssssomeone hissing her way through her book?

Do you lean over and gently ssssuggest: “I’m sssssorry but could you keep the lisspy hissing down?”

Do you offer her a piece of gum as a pacifier with the hope that she’ssss not a gum-ssssnapper?

Do you offer her a burger at the fassst-food joint down the road, your treat?

Or do you ssssuffer in ssssilence, ruing the insensssitivity and decline in public mannerssss?

Sssso whaddya do? Thoughtssss from you guysssss are welcome! Just ix-nay on the S-say, I beg of you!


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aussie Emjay
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 15:45:53

    I’d probably suffer in silence – but I’m a ssssssissssy.
    Every day on the trains there is someone singing along outloud, and badly, with whatever they are hearing on their iPods etc. One day I heard a woman ask a young man to please stop and she was verbally insulted. The noise of our metro wheels and rails usually drowns out those who read aloud unless you are sitting right next to them and they are loud readers. I’m surprised at how many people read with their lips moving – I wonder if they even realise they are doing it.


    • allycatadventures
      Dec 17, 2010 @ 16:23:44

      @Aussssssssie Emjay – Interestingly, I don’t find singing, badly or otherwise, nearly as irritating and/or intrusive as other behaviors like cell-phone conversations — the more trite, the more annoying — gum-snapping and whispered reading aloud. I actually thought about telling the cafe woman on the chance that she’s unaware she’d doing it, as you mention, but she looked scary and capable of verbal slicing like only certain women can do.
      As an asssssside, public challenges like this really make me long for Japan, where if you brought that irritant to the person’s attention, the person would apologize rather than insult you. Or sue you. American manners sssssssssuck.


  2. Invictus
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 17:27:55

    I’m usually packing my iPod, so I probably would have just put in the earbuds and been OK, but if it bothered me, I’d probably have asked her if she was all right and, if she gave me a puzzled look, said that she was hissing and I thought she was burned or otherwise hurt. If that didn’t work, arguing with myself usually drives people away, especially if you use different voices.


    • allycatadventures
      Dec 17, 2010 @ 18:09:47

      @B – lol. Arguing with one’s self could work in a multitude of situations, from sending away a hissing reader to obtaining a seat on the bus to possibly even clearing the lines at the supermarket. Imagine how useful it could be at the stores now too. Almost makes me wish I had holiday shopping left.


  3. Flamingo Dancer
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 23:54:18

    Well, reading aloud is an excellent for readers to learn to read, and I would like Emjay and not say anything but perhaps order a strong coffee. If I was a nice person I might help her to pronounce and s properly, but I am not nice. Was it at least an interesting book?


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