Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sobbing syllables. Today I was in North, desultorily eating my huevos rancheros with a hangover, and there was a small child at the next table who was swinging around in one of the Saarinen Tulip chairs while her dad sat opposite. She was making it twirl round and round like playground equipment. Which it isn't, so eventually it tipped over, taking her with it.

"Oh god, here we go!" I thought, anticipating the inevitable crying. Although sometimes the kid doesn't cry until the adult makes a fuss. Unfortunately, this kid did start crying, and I found the syllable she was using for her sobs unbelievably irritating.

"Heeeee!" she sobbed. "Heeeeeee! Heeeeee! Heeeeeee!"

This made me ponder the most annoying syllables that you can use to sob with. Last time I sobbed (yesterday), I don't think I used syllables – I just kind of gasped for breath. But you can go "Hoo hoo hoooo," "Aaah haaa haaaa," or, as memorably recounted in Sonya Hartnett's Butterfly, "Her her her."

I consulted world-champion crier, Julianne Moore, and she mainly sobs without syllables except for a truly abject "Aaaaaah" right at the end of this montage:

I still think that for sheer irritation value, this child wins.

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