Ever hear of an earworm? Even if you haven’t heard the term, I’m sure you’ve experienced the phenomenon.
An earworm is a tune that pops into your head, seemingly from nowhere, and you can’t get rid of for hours, sometimes even days. It’s a melody that slowly clings to your brain and quickly gets on your nerves.
At first you may find it amusing, as in how weird, where did you come from? But after its 90th rerun, you just want to strangle it.
It’s estimated by the strange scientists who study these things that over 90% of us humans experience earworms at one time or another. The melodies in question might be songs you like or even songs you don’t! You have no control. Like a reflex, it’s involuntary.
I would guess that I am overtaken by an earworm at least once a month, and if I’m really off my game, could be as often as every other week. It’s a sneaky little parasite, as unpredictable as my husband’s golf game. Sometimes it’s there, first thing in the morning. It’s as if it’s been crouching in my auditory cortex all night, just waiting for me to open my eyes. Other times, it pops up in the middle of the day when I’m doing something quite mundane, like picking up dog poop from the sidewalk.
There are occasions when I don’t mind it. Like when we heard of the recent death of a music icon and my pet earworm, let’s call him Phil, began playing the best of Tony Bennett. It was soothing and nostalgic, but I admit after a while I eliminated San Francisco as a place I like to visit.
I also don’t mind if Phil serenades me with Stephen Sondheim show tunes, Billy Joel, or Bruce Springstein. Or clever rap music. But I draw the line at a medley of The Village People! And I don’t give a f*&k Who Let the Dogs Out!
But the worst – the very worst – is when Phil decides to fill my head with commercials. That’s when I’m ready to skewer Phil at the end of a fishing line.
Do you have any idea what it’s like to experience 1-877-Kars for Kids on a continuous loop? Did you ever entertain murderous thoughts about doing away with little kids dressed in pink? Or, at the very least locking them in an attic until their voices changed and their instruments rusted? Well, I have. And I don’t feel good about it.
But the latest, and possibly worst torture inflicted by Phil is a very uplifting, jubilant, and joyous jingle for a drug! And yes, I’ll name it. It’s Jardiance. It’s a medication that lowers blood sugar and is also good for your heart. But read the fine print. The catchy tune can create havoc in your brain!
Have you seen the commercial? If you watch any TV at all, it’s really hard to miss. It’s like a Hollywood epic. An incredibly affable woman pops out of her house and begins rapturously singing the praises of a little pill that she apparently has just ingested. She is surrounded by a cast of thousands, with all eyes on her. She finishes singing, and she and the entire community break into a lively disco-type dance to the sounds of the catchy, uplifting, jubilant, and joyous jingle. And although Miss Conviviality stopped singing for a few seconds, Phil had plenty of time to make sure that I remembered every word!
And what really makes me angry is that Jardiance doesn’t work. My husband takes it, and his dancing hasn’t improved, not one little bit!
So, when you’re ready for the Sounds of Silence, how does one exorcise an earworm? Have those clever scientists come up with a remedy? They have, and it might just surprise you.
The antidote to your own personal Phil is gum. Yes, that’s gum. As in chewing gum. And here is what I learned: “Chewing gum is an easy method known to help get rid of earworms. This is tied to the theory that jaw movement affects, or reduces, musical cognition.” It’s as simple as that.
The problem is the article doesn’t suggest what type of gum is best to chew. Perhaps different flavors work best for different musical genres. For example, to rid my consciousness of Kars for Kids, would pink sugar-laden bubble gum work best? I’ll give it a try. If it works, I promise I’ll let those brats out of the attic!
Note: Unfiltered Wit is taking summer break. August posts will be reruns but stay tuned for fresh nonsense after Labor Day! Stay cool!
About the Author
Susan is the author of two award-winning collections of humorous personal essays: “How Old Am I in Dog Years?” and “How to Complain When There’s Nothing to Complain About.” Check out her Author Page HERE.