I am not alone

or “How marvelous it is to find a home within an internet freakshow minority”

I have a few quirks – some biological, some psychological, some superstitious or even spiritual. I love beets, but they turn my urine bright red the next day, making me think I sustained kidney damage the night before (a possibility far less far fetched than it should be). Beeturia, it’s called. I used to think it happened to everyone, like the asparagus smell, until I made some comment in mixed company and got immediately leprecized. I googled it, lots of people get it, not most though, and not to the extent I do. But googling it did not make me feel a part of any larger beeturetic community.

I sneeze at the sun too, when I come out of dark places and into the light. Three times usually, regardless of season and regardless of my health. Again, it’s not uncommon at all, hardly even a quirk.

When I was in college I used to fall asleep on the library couch in the hope that someone would come along and start typing on the nearby computer. The tiny, resonant sounds of the keyboard were at once deep and clacking, rhythmic yet non-repetitive. Each key strike was perfectly small and self-contained, but within them there was depth – a movement from thin to thick, a click and a thock at the same time. I found it entrancing, almost literally hypnotizing. They were the best naps of my life.

I used to convince my girlfriend to come to my room to type her papers when she had to stay up late working, just so I could fall asleep to that sound in my own room. Once I even remember neglecting my own work for the pleasure of hearing her do hers.

Later, with other girlfriends, I found the same trance-like calm listening to them eat hard candy or ice in bed. I’d lay my head as close to theirs as I could, and listen to the hard lozenge clacking against their teeth and getting sucked along the inside of their cheek. As their mouths moved they changed in shape, adding depth and variety to the sound. Again, it was rhythmic but not patterned, not predictable. There’s a Fog song called “The Girl from the Gum Commercial” and part of the track is just the very well-miked sound of someone chewing gum. I loved that song for the same reasons.

Everyone always assumed it was a sexual thing but it never was. I do the same thing with dogs: try to get them interested in a bone and then coax them into a position where I can listen to them (with my head as close to theirs as possible) gnaw on it for a while.

Then, way before all of that, there was a lady in the nursing home where I used to work, Vivian something. She was blind and had dentures, and when I brought her her food, she put her dentures in (loose) and ate with these wonderful clacking, smacking sounds. I stood and listened to her eat every time I got the chance. She was blind, so she never thought it was weird.

And then yesterday listening to NPR a woman described a similar experience. She liked watching youtube videos of women whispering and talking about stuff they bought, or reading a magazine, or doing origami. She loved the little sounds and found them really soothing in a totally non-exciting, non-sexual way. She called it Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), and described a whole online community devoted to it. I wasn’t entirely convinced this had anything to do with me, until she described the sensation these sounds produced. She described it as a sort of tingly feeling in the back of your head, which is exactly how I feel in all of the scenarios described above.

So, still a little skeptical, I got online and looked, and there I found my true home. Scores of online videos of calm, whispering people eating hard candy, or ice, or popcorn, or typing, or dogs eating bones, or cats eating cat food, or women arranging their lipstick, or doing origami. And they all start the same way, with a whisper, “hey guys, i’m gonna eat some candy now, i hope you like these sounds and they help you relax.”

I stayed in my wheelhouse last night, listening to ice and candy videos primarily. But now I’m branching out. I’ll listen to people eat basically anything, I’m discovering, and I find I love the soft sounds of hands manipulating plastic packaging as well. These people, you can make requests, ask them to make a whisper video doing something in particular, eating a particular thing, or mixing two “triggers,” like typing while eating ice. I haven’t yet gotten up the courage to make a request, but I think I will. I think typing and eating something is what I’ll request.

I don’t know, I’m excited, I wanted to share. Before you get dismissive about it, listen to this for a minute or two with headphones.

ASMR Hard Candy Sweet

This one’s awesome two. It’s somebody making mouth noises while a disembodied arm strokes some curtains.

Mouth Noises and Curtain Stroking

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