Martha Jaffe from Gaithersburg, Md., can’t stand the squeaky, metallic sound made when you lift up the little silver spout on a container of Morton salt. “I fill up my salt shaker pretty much to the top so I do not have to experience this very often,” Martha wrote. “Does anyone else share my disdain for the lifting of the Morton salt box spout?”
Eleanor Laughlin of Arlington, Va., detests “the sound of a fingernail running up and down the fold of a piece of paper to make sure the fold is as creased as it possibly can be.”
Cindy Cheamitru of Rockville, Md., said her poor son has never experienced the joy of hugging a balloon animal. She cannot tolerate the sound of hands on an inflated balloon.
This misophonia seems related to Cindy’s other auditory trigger: the sound of squeaking Styrofoam. Cindy dates this aural distaste to her youth. Every summer, as the family prepared for the long car ride to the grandparents’ house, her father would place a Styrofoam cooler behind his seat.
“Although he carefully anchored and cemented it in place, inevitably, the motion of the vehicle — or, as my Dad believed, the fussing of the kids or dog — caused the dreaded ‘Styrofoam Squeak,’ Cindy wrote. “Now, any sound emitted from Styrofoam makes my skin crawl.”
She must leave the room whenever a Styrofoam-laden box is unpacked.
Cliff Brownstein of North Potomac, Md., can’t stand the sound of a toilet continuing to run after it’s been flushed. “As soon as I hear it, my reflex is to head into the bathroom, lift the lid off the tank, and start checking for a faulty valve or bad stopper,” Cliff wrote.
And while we’re in the bathroom, Stuart Lewis hates the sound of the toilet seat hitting the toilet. “Everyone seems to slam it down instead of lowering it gently,” wrote Stuart, of Leesburg, Va.
For Jane Elkin of Urbanna, Va., nothing is worse than the chirping of a smoke detector with a low battery.
What sends Stephen Dudzik of Olney, Md., around the bend is the high-frequency whining of a single mosquito hovering near his ear when he’s trying to sleep.
Wrote Stephen: “Hard to swat it in the dark and it keeps coming back like the Terminator That mosquito is out there! It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are bit!”
Lisa from Alberta, Canada, has a special problem: The voices of some men cause one of her eardrums to vibrate with every syllable. “The feeling of the vibration is super distracting and it takes a lot of effort to concentrate on the words,” she wrote. Unfortunately, the pitch of her husband’s voice causes the problem. He “has become used to seeing me with half a cotton ball in one ear,” Lisa wrote.
Gwen Stewart of Bethesda, Md., grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., in a house near a farm. The farm had peacocks, and at night the peacocks would make their distinctive cry: “Hell, hell . . .” She wrote: “As a child I thought it was kids yelling for help. How can such a beautifully outfitted bird have such an awful sounding voice?”
Joanne Doyle of Salisbury, Md., hates a different nocturnal sound: the sound of a dog barking on a freezing winter’s night. “One knows that he is cold and needs to be brought indoors,” she wrote.
And we can’t leave the subject of awful sounds without touching on everyone’s least favorite noise: the leaf blower. Many readers mentioned it. I’ll let Dave Prevar of Annapolis, Md., do the honors: “I’m retired, and that raspy ‘Waaahh!’ goes straight through my closed windows, waking me up in the morning or from a nap, or preventing me from enjoying music, talking on the phone, or even really concentrating when I need quiet. I’ll take fingernails on a chalkboard or a dentist’s drill anytime over it.”
See you Thursday
I’m taking a couple of days off. I’ll see you back in this space Thursday.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.