Air Valve

A pile of sugar in a spoon. It might be a teaspoon, but it's hard to be exact.

Dear lord. It started with a misplaced sip of water. The bubble started from my throat, or maybe it’s my gut. Either way it builds to a very tight wad of air until it bursts a few inches below my chin.

Damn. Did I just get the hiccups? I wait to see.

You don’t really know if it’s the hiccups until the second one. I mean, you can feel that it might be, but, until you get the rhythmic spasms, you hold hope that it isn’t going to stick.

My chest almost tightens and the air explodes. Some of the air shoots out of my nose in a very uncomfortable fashion. It’s almost effervescent, but not nicely so. Effervescent in that citric acidy way that burns your nostrils. A subset of the air from my tight chest, almost concurrently with the nose release, reverses back down and erupts in my esophagus just above my stomach. This is also not pleasant.

There’s a burst of belchy air that escapes from my mouth. This is the part I really hate. The air doesn’t as much escape as expel through my lips at a disturbingly high speed. This happens via some unknown muscle in the back of my throat. This muscle curls onto itself. It creates a very tight spring, and when it lets go it shakes the top half of my body. I am not exaggerating. I visibly convulse a bit.

The air rushes through my voicebox on the way to my mouth to create a squeaky “hic” sound. A sound that seems so silly and gentle. But that sound belies the violence of the air jetting out.

It doesn’t hurt. Not at first.

Even though I am alone, my hand rushes to my mouth to excuse myself. It’s just polite to avoid spreading air spewing from your gut across the room.

I wait.

Yes, there. Damn. Although the hiccups are rhythmic, it’s a syncopated beat. A beat without rhyme or reason. Hiccups are erratic and random–except that they will repeat. For too long. Sometimes they’re fast and furious, but more often they tease you into thinking that they are over. Until they are not over but instead causing pain in your chest and your throat.

Mind races to the list of cures. A teaspoon of sugar. Or of vinegar. Or hot sauce or honey. Covering your mouth with a paper bag and slowly inhaling and exhaling into that bag. Drinking a glass of water through a paper towel or with a spoon hanging underneath your tongue. Then there’s fright–but you know it’s coming so it rarely works.

Or writing a post about it. Seriously. They are gone. I love this blog!