This morning, early in the morning, Roger and I dragged out our old refrigerator from the garage and placed it on the corner of the driveway to get it picked up and hauled away. It’s a long story about why we still have that old dinosaur, but the short story is that it’s the town’s clean-up day which means that things like old appliances and other household items that are usually hard to haul away is done so by city workers, free of charge. I saw an old toilet on the corner of a neighbor’s driveway the other day, waiting for its free pick-up.
So, while we were working on figuring out how to move the, I swear, two ton hunk of metal to the end of the long driveway, Roger decided to check the inside. We have not opened that thing for probably a good couple of years, and when he did, he was welcomed with the worst, pungent smell. He immediately started to gag. When Roger gags, he sounds as if he is actually vomiting. While he was gagging away, to my embarrassment, I heard the neighbor’s mother who stays at his house, start to cough… or was she gagging too?
I then got to thinking. Why is it that simple bodily functions are so contagious? Have you ever sat with a group of people when someone coughs? Try it the next time when you are sitting in a quiet crowd of people. It’s a simple and pretty funny study of public behavior. Start by making a soft cough, then count how many people start a little cough here, then another there.
How about yawns? I know I have been caught myself yawning, wondering why on the earth I was doing it, especially since I didn’t feel a bit tired. Then, later I would discover that there was some tired soul near me yawning away as well.
One of my favorites is laughter. That is the best contagious function, but only if it comes at an appropriate time. I can’t even count how many times I have started laughing simply because of others laughing. I do, however, recall times when I have said between giggles, “what’s so funny?” feeling quite dumb for not knowing why I was in such a state. While on the subject of laughing, I have also noticed that sometimes my laugh pattern changes from time to time, which usually is blamed on others who have the same sort of pattern.
Then, there are people who for some reason find that accents are contagious. Have you ever found yourself speaking in a similar pattern as the person you are with? And while I think of it, certain phrases and words are very, very contagious. There are many times when I have said things, then pause, wondering why on the earth did I ever think of saying such an unusual word? I giggled once, when I heard a co-worker speaking to a child. She used the same, obvious grammatical error as the child that she was talking to, made. I am sure it was subconscious, she wasn’t one who would do that to be cute.
My question is, why is it that we do things like that? I understand how we catch colds and other infections, but why do we catch mannerisms? I suppose it’s the same way we catch things like fads. This will probably be put on my list of things to continue pondering. Do you have any insights or other catchy mannerisms that I haven’t mentioned?