This shouldn’t be controversial, but someone needs to say it: We’re entitled to yell “GUYAHHGH!” when it’s below zero.
Perhaps I should explain. It’s a multipart back story, so bear with me. Besides, it’s not like you need to rush off to the beach or anything.
It’s cold, right? Yes. A tad nippy.
The good news about this cold weather is that it can’t last forever, unless a massive volcano erupts and shrouds the Earth with dust that obscures the sun. You probably stopped at “massive volcano erupts” and thought, “That sounds attractive right about now. Nice and toasty.”
The cold brings us together with relatives who moved to Arizona and want to remind us that they can move about freely outdoors in minimal clothing without their face feeling like someone fed a basket of frozen needles into a jet engine.
It also provides the perfect justification for sitting in front of the TV for hours on end. And after you’ve shaken off your despair over the weather, you find the strength to turn the TV on, and it gets even better! There are shows you’ve been intending to binge-watch. For instance, I’ve been wanting to catch up on that British show about an Inspector who solves murders in a small town, but I can’t because the DVR has been otherwise occupied.
That’s how we get to “GUYAHHGH!” It’s what we do around the house now.
My wife plays tennis. A lot. I don’t. At all. When we were dating, I agreed to play racquetball, which is half-tennis, except you’re competing against a wall that has somehow convinced you to regard the other person as your opponent, instead of teaming up against the wall.
She also watches tennis. The Australian Open, which finally ended Sunday, has been on TV since, it seems, July. Because of the time difference, the matches are played in what’s the middle of the night here, so each day, the DVR has nine hours of tennis ready for her to watch, and I have to pretend to be interested.
“Murtina Cvekelova versus Langolia Swinkaraquet.”
“Who do you like?”
“Murtina has a great serve, but Langolia is great at returns.”
“That’s ... pretty much the essence of the game, no? Is there someone who has a great serve and is great at returns? Seems to me they’d clean up.”
But she’s not listening, because the ball went on the other side of a line and the crowd is making the sound you associate with the liberation of Paris.
“You know the origin of the term ‘love’ as a score?” I say to the back of her head, which is not interested. “It’s from the French for l’oeuf, an egg, which looks like zero, although more ovoid. Since the score advances by increments of 15, which is quinze in French, it would be great if a 15-0 score was described as ‘cans to egg.’ Wouldn’t you say?”
That was not my wife, but one of the players. She was one of the grunters, the criers, the screamers, the tennis players who issue heaven-rending oral blurts every time they hit the ball.
Everyone who watches or plays tennis who is not themselves a habitual blurter hates these people.
Given the rhythms of tennis, the GUYAHHGH’s are uttered at predictable intervals, so it sounds like the player is being stabbed by someone who has to rest between blows. The grunters and screamers never seem to play against each other; it’s always one grunter versus someone who does not feel compelled to sound as if the baby is crowning every time they swing their arm.
Defenders of vocal tennis will say the game is demanding, and that’s so — but rare is the football game where a receiver is struck by a 300-pound sack of fast meat and utters anything other than a soft, brief exhalation of frustration. I mean, I’ve seen players get tackled with a force sufficient to make their ancestors sit up and bang their head on the coffin lid, and they don’t make a tenth of the noise these tennis players make.
We are extremely, excessively lucky that tennis-player screaming has not infected the rest of society. Imagine someone at the self-checkout line, beeping an item.
One can of chili over the glass: “GUYAHHGH!”
Pause. Scan the coffee: “GUYAHHGH!”
Pause. Oh, it’s bananas, that means you have to punch in a code. But do you GUYAHHGH! after you hit enter, or after each number? I’d say after each number.
No, tennis seems to be the only place where you can scream.
An English murder mystery in which the Inspector says “GUYAHHGH!” as he picks up an envelope and solves the crime because the stamp was upside down, which proves that the solicitor was lying about seeing the vicar at the pub, wouldn’t work. Or if a TV meteorologist shouted “GUYAHHGH!” while gesturing to a cold front coming in behind that other cold front, we’d think something was wrong.
But, there is something cathartic about a good scream. If everyone walking around outside when it’s 20-below just screamed, I think it would be good for our mood. I mean, it’s bad enough when the temperature is love and nothing more.