Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I'm gonna see the cow beneath the sea

Confession time.

I have a disease. A horrible, debilitating disease. It's not one of those front-page headlines kinds of diseases, like breast cancer or Parkinson's. It's a shameful disease, with no celebrity spokespeople, no telethons, no 5k runs to raise money for a cure. People don't talk about it. They're too embarrassed.

But I have decided to break the silence. I have taken it upon myself to be the courageous one, the sufferer who finally tries to let some light shine into the darkness.

I have Annoying Song Syndrome. Sometimes abbreviated ASS.


Yes, it's true.

I'm ashamed to say I don't know exactly where or when I contracted ASS. It may have been during my freewheeling college years as a theatre major - going to parties where everyone sang along with the Grease soundtrack and traded lines from Rocky Horror. Some of those days are a blur. I may have been infected while I was drunk or passed out.

For those of you who aren't familiar with ASS, let me share with you some of the more common symptoms: An attack usually begins because of a trigger. It varies from case to case, but for me, the trigger is most often a situation that reminds me of the lyrics of a particular song. In some instances, actual dialogue in my life quotes lyrics verbatim from a song, but more often, it's just a close approximation. Even that close approximation is enough to set off the song in my head, and from there, things spiral quickly downward.

For example: In the above paragraph, when I said "I may have been infected while I was drunk or passed out," I triggered an attack. The phrase "drunk or passed out" is rhythmically similar to a line in the song "Bobby James" off the N.E.R.D. album "In Search Of..." where the protagonist sings "I'm just one hit away from being passed out...young, and assed out." That similarity is enough to start the song on an endless loop inside my head. (The truly horrific thing is, it's my least favorite song on that album. Why not "Rock Star" or "Truth or Dare?" I guess because those songs aren't annoying, and it wouldn't be ASS if the song was kick ass.) Who knows how long "Bobby James" will live inside my head? I can't tell you. But it will be a lot longer than I would like it to. This is the price I pay for sharing my pain with the world.

Sometimes the only relief comes from inflicting the song on an innocent bystander. (Usually, in my case, my poor, long-suffering husband, KB.) I will sing the annoying song to the unsuspecting person in the hopes that just venting some of the pressure will allow the song to completely escape my head. Often, this tactic works. Occasionally, the technique backfires and both of us get the song stuck in our heads - this shows how virulent ASS really is.

I used to preface my singing with the statement, "I've got the most annoying song stuck in my head-" but most of my friends and relatives have learned that this is code for "I'm about to inflict unimaginable annoyance on you" and they quickly going into ASS defense mode: Fingers stuck in ears, singing the theme from "The Flintstones" as loudly as possible, they run from the room. So I usually don't tell them what I'm about to do. I put my own comfort ahead of theirs (I'm so ashamed) and knowingly infect them with ASS. I'm such a shit.

Sometimes I can derail the ASS attack by running to my CD collection and playing a completely different, but equally catchy song. I have a few favorite "go-to" tracks that, while others might find them annoying, serve as much-needed balm for my aching head. "One Week," by Barenaked Ladies comes to mind. I have come to terms with using them as temporary fixes - all previous joy at hearing these songs for their own sake is gone. It's sad, but this is the harsh world of ASS.

If, as they say in the Twelve Steps, the first step towards recovery is admitting you have a problem, then let this be my first step. Let this confession start me on the road towards healing, towards the day when it will no longer be a social stigma to blurt out "Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fandango?" in a crowded restaurant.

Perhaps sharing my pain will be the push that other ASS sufferers need to admit their own problems. Maybe even a celebrity sufferer of ASS will come forward and be the driving force needed to bring ASS to the public's attention. (Fiona Apple? Mike Myers?) I hesistate even to voice these hopes, as they may be dashed on the rocks of reality all too quickly.

But where there is truth, there is hope.

Thanks for reading.


Electric Mayhem said...

Ahhh, my Useless Trivia Twin. You know I do this with movie lines. I myself have AMLS, annoying movie line syndrome, the acronym for which is not nearly as amusing as yours.

By the way, my Mom came up with a new line for the "Nolan" song, something about "someday he'll go bowlin'".

Adams said...

Screw you twice for putting that song in my head.

"Scaramouche, scaramouche! Will you do the fan-DANGO!"


zachdb said...

Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening me....

Aaack, it's transmissible across the ether! Call the CDC, this is more virulent than the H5N1 bird flu! ...If not, perhaps, as deadly.

At least now I know one of the defenses: The Flintstones.

zachdb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The undecided one said...

I am so happy that you decided to sted forward and make the world aware of ASS.
I am a quiet sufferer myself and it brings me hoe that I am not alone.

Ranger Bob said...

All along I thought my head was infested with a tiny, parasitic disk jockey, who arrived with a trunkload of singles from the 60s and 70s.

Now I know the true nature of my problem: A.S.S.

Thank you for letting me- and millions of other sufferers- know we are not alone.