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A pandemic

Troy Mathew | Tuesday, March 1, 2011

As I sat in CoMo last week, trying in vain to think of something significant to say about Voltaire, my writer’s block was the least of my concerns. Much more bothersome was the aural assault I was enduring.

The offender, sitting directly next to me, was mouth-breathing. That is, he was breathing heavily, in a Neanderthal-like manner. If you are familiar with “Hey Arnold,” he sounded something like that kid with the glasses who Helga always decks in the face. I wanted nothing more than to emulate Helga in this situation.

My irritation subsided, and I gained perspective on the situation. Perhaps this instance would be like swinging a baseball bat with a donut. If I could concentrate on the difficult material while enduring this obnoxious noise, then writing on the test would be a breeze.

It wasn’t. Throughout the test, my ears were again violated by the sound of a female’s raucous respiratory cycle. I tried my best to block out the noise, but had a rough go with the test despite my efforts (I need a scapegoat for my less-than-stellar performance, and it’s you, mouth-breather girl). While leaving this class, I pondered the severity of this apparent mouth-breathing pandemic and its important social repercussions. Being tuned in to the issue, I made an effort to better observe mouth-breathing habits and draw conclusions. Luckily we are in the midst of cold and flu season, so in no time I had enough mouth-breathing observations to write a freaking dissertation.

The most prominent observation I made is that mouth-breathing results in immediate and significant loss in intellectual cred. I cannot take you seriously if you are breathing, mouth agape, while carrying on with your various activities. I associate mouth breathing with Neanderthals, dogs and stereotypical sitcom or cartoon nerds. If you are an offensive mouth-breather, I immediately associate you with one of the above categories. Another observation I made about mouth breathing is that it is does not discriminate. Males and females alike practice this vexing technique. Likewise, people of varying sizes and ages can be offenders. Finally, mouth breathing is often accompanied by other unpleasant mouth-related sounds.

For example, CoMo kid also engaged in a bizarre mouth-smacking motion that resulted in a noise like he was chewing a banana. Thus, by becoming conscious of their mouth breathing, transgressors can likely also save themselves from committing a host of other horrible mouth-related noises. Breathing is widely assumed to be an inherent trait. People often conclude, “We come out of the womb breathing, it shouldn’t be a process which requires attention and regulation.”

Incorrect. Mouth-breathing can have unthinkable implications on your public appearance, so beware. It is my hope that through attentiveness, and perhaps cough drops and nasal decongestant, this campus can be entirely free of mouth-breathers. When that day arrives, I will have to think of another excuse for why the grade on my test is less than desirable. I’m sure I’ll come up with something passable.