Voices in My Head

If someone were to animate me, they would draw a big headache. I don’t know what that would look like, nor am I suggesting I’m a nothing but hassle. I think. But I spend most of my time dodging the dreaded headache, ducking like it’s a bomber flying above threatening my day with total destruction.

I think headaches are assholes. Just like there are different types of assholes, there are different types of headaches. It occurred to me last night that I could draw up a comprehensive headache typology, and for your benefit, identify them by the singing voices I most despise. You’ve got your Win Butler headaches, your Ed Sheeran, etc.

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1. Migraine With Aura, or Janis Joplin.
You walk into a Shopper’s Drug Mart and you’re staring at the dental floss, and you’re like, is it … happening? Is there a hole in my vision? And you reach for the Reach and realize it’s six inches to the left of where you thought it was, so you turn to the right and stare into the distance until you realize you’ve been giving a baby who just materialized a creepy stare and the mother hustles the stroller around the corner to get away from you, that’s like when you hear the strains of Janis Joplin over the intercom and you’re thinking, is it … happening again? Do I really have to hear her voice? And as soon as you realize yup, it’s her, she’s SCREAMING IN YOUR EAR with that horrible scratchy voice and you’re wobbling around trying not to crash into a stack of halloween candy, searching in your purse for some advils, and, too late, it’s all Janis Joplin in your throbbing ears and snowy television screen vision and people are asking you what’s wrong but you’ve lost the ability to talk, so you shake your head and point to it, and grope your way home where the only thing you can do is listen to repeats of Nashville on very low volume, because the show doesn’t require you to actually watch the five-second eruptions between characters that make up each scene. This process repeats itself several times over the next few days.

2. The Sore Back, or Nickelback.
You’ve been standing on your feet all day, and what started as a small oof when you bent over to pick something up has morphed into back pain that scorches up your spine, tightens your shoulders, and grips your jaw, the same feeling you get when you’re reminded of who Nickelback really is, a bunch of dudes complaining about girls in grinding repetitions of trying to get that piece of steak lodged in Kroeger’s throat out once and for all.

3. The Bad Weather, or Ed Sheeran.
“Wow, nice”: a phrase applied equally to a radical change in barometric pressure leading to some break in the weather and to Ed Sheeran’s meekly misogynistic songs about women’s physical attributes disguised as romance. Both are fine as the background to a date (when there’s nothing else to talk about: “Hm, looks like we’re finally in for that storm!” “I love the shape of you.”) but not for the head. This usually manifests as one pinpoint over the left eye, making you feel like the rest of the world must finally see you as the cyborg you really are until the snow stops falling or the chinook has turned the streets into a river of melting ice. You cower under the blankets while everybody else puts on a pair of shorts in the middle of February. “Thanks for the weather forecast!” says your friends. No problem.

4. The Monthly, or the Rob Thomas.
This one, for whatever reason, is always a shock. The same reaction when you hear a Matchbox 20 song on the radio, TWENTY YEARS after they were not popular. Why? Why is this happening again? And there’s no buildup, it’s just like wham, let me slam the front of your head in a vice and make you wonder what the point of being alive is, usually while you’re in the middle of something where you have to appear smart and not fog-headed like this is doing to you. And you go home thinking, was it something I ate? And then Flo visits and you’re like, oh yeah, even though you had Clue going on your phone to tell you “PMS is happening today,” etc. You’re still somehow always surprised.

It's just the worst? Why did this ever happen?

5. The Ocular, or the Sarah McLachlan.
This one is the headache who’s always trying to get on your good side, maybe with a nice tune about the usual heartache, delivered in smarmily poetic lyrics, saying I’m smarter than the other migraines who are equally annoying but not as darkly intelligent, because I don’t actually turn into a headache. I just threaten, covering it up with disingenuous earnestness and sincerity. Perhaps this gasp will make you come around, or this slight hiccup in my overwrought delivery. I hang in the air, never leaving, manifesting as a giant white spot in the shape of Africa, annoying you every time you look around, but never really doing anything objectionable.

6. The Lingerer, or the Win Butler.
As a headache, this is the most annoying, sitting as it does in the background, never amounting to much, but stopping all enjoyable activities like reading or sex, or reading during sex, because it’s a vague annoyance, slightly diminishing one’s ability to truly feel good. Like just man up already and stop it with the warbling and be a real headache! Jeez.