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VOL 3. NO. 16 Friday, April 13 - Thursday, April 26, 2001
The Orville Redenbacher Syndrome
By Paula BOWIE
A couple of weeks ago, I went to the doctor. I had a weird kind of vibration thing going on in my left ear. It mimicked the sound of popping popcorn and it got louder and louder as the day progressed. I tried describing it over the phone to my doctor and in a puzzled voice, she asked me to come in. I am sort of a high maintenance patient and usually feel pity for anyone of the doctors who dares to take me on as a patient. Thankfully, all of my doctors from the dentist, to the ophthalmologist understand that I must first self-diagnose before listening to what they have to say.

On this particular day, I had a plethora of questions concerning the popcorn popping in my ear, which I had by then named the "Orville Redenbacher Syndrome." On the way, all kinds of weird thoughts came to me like: What if an egg of an insect had blown into my ear while I was outside and now it is about to hatch? Or what if my eardrum is about to burst? Or is it really in my ear, or is my heart beating so fast and loud that it is vibrating in my ear? Well, at least I was about to find out, right? Wrong! According to the fifty-plus receptionist who kept her nose glued to pages of a Harlequin Romance novel while checking patients in, my doctor was at home in bed with the flu. Great, now who was going to stop the popping? Of course, they suggested that I see her partner who I wasn't very crazy about because I had never met him. Besides, what if he didn't "understand" me? I had a pad full of notes that I was going to discuss with her concerning my "Orville condition." In any case, I agreed to see her partner.

After 15 minutes of waiting in an examining room that contained everything from a scale, to magazines that showcased celebs who chose adoption over pregnancy, a funny looking old guy who was a dead ringer for Sigmund Freud bounced into the room.

"Hello," he sang absentmindedly while sifting through my chart. His eyebrows looked like salt and peppered arrows that pointed at each other high above his eyeglasses, the face of amused concentration. Then finally he asked, "What brings you in here?"

I told him about my popcorned ears and even attempted to make the annoying vibrating sound with my lips and tongue to give him a clearer picture.

"Hmmm. And how in the world do I spell that sound?" he asked laughing while I giggled. He checked my throat, eyes, and finally ears and blamed the vibration on a flu bug that I had battled two weeks before. Simple enough. But what could I do about this annoying sound that was quickly graduating from popcorn status to the sound of a single engine plane?

"Forget about it," he said. "It's just the sound of air rushing through your partially closed ear canal."

Great, I thought. So the motor would stop when my ears decided to open up. I smiled and thanked "Mr. Freud" and went to the counter to pay for my visit. As I put away my wallet and was about to grab my coat, a most interesting conversation started between another doctor and a lab technician.

"Yes, if it was left up to my mother I would've never learned to speak proper English," the doctor said.

"Why is that?" the lab tech asked.

"Well you see, I'm originally from Mississippi and there are just certain words that we never learned to pronounce."

"Such as?"

"Like the word cement. From the time that I was a little boy, I thought that the word was `see-mint.' And also the word siren.

"How was that pronounced?" the lab tech asked still chuckling from `see-mint.'


"Really? Wow, it's amazing how different we all sound but live in the same country.

"Yes, well I was determined to learn to speak "English" and I did. Why, most people think that I'm originally from New York instead of Jackson, Mississippi.

I walked away from the office shaking my head and more than a little disappointed. I guess I expected more from someone in such a respected profession. Did he not realize that his mother's "English" was not at all incorrect? I assumed that he would've had a healthier attitude and more knowledge concerning his heritage, although that assumption was based entirely on his career choice. It unnerved me to hear a doctor make such an ignorant statement. Surely, he was able to distinguish `bad English' from a simple Southern accent! I walked down the hall pitying him as his voice rang out from behind me, boasting about how people could never even tell that he was southern. As I stepped into the elevator and headed down to the lobby, I did a silent prayer of thanks that he was not my doctor.

For Your Southernly Information:

A true Southerner never runs from any of the eccentricities connected to their Southern heritage. Instead, they simply embrace and showcase them.

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