Everyday there seems to be some kind of new disease taking over the world. I do believe I have discovered a new illness. It is quite uncomfortable and irritating, and it usually clears up after a couple of days. If I am correct, and this is a new disease, then I shall be famously known as the woman who discovered, diagnosed, and provided the remedy for the infamous Croatianitus (pronounced: kro-aye-shun-eye-tis). What is Croatianitus?
I am sure most of you have heard about Tinnitus. It is a ringing or buzzing in your ears that only you can hear. Croatianitus is something similar, but in an opposite way. Instead of hearing the buzzing in your ears you find that you really can’t hear at all. There is a pressure built up in your head, sort of like having your head wrapped up in a cotton ball helmet. When people speak to you, you can see their lips moving and perhaps some sound will break through the fogginess, but your actual capability to hear normally has been adversely affected.
What causes Croatianitus? This condition is most often brought on by being in public places with Croatians. These are a jovial and entertaining group of people. They prefer loud music and even louder conversations. This friendly group of humans started out in Croatia. From there, emigration began and they moved to many different countries all over the world! They brought their sense of joie de vivre with them and settled in cities where there were others of their kind. Their raucous laughter and joke telling was studied in order to record their decibel levels. After numerous studies, dB showed them way above healthy levels…closer to “shot gun” deafening.
I have been studying this society for quite some time now. I have attended their marital rituals and other religious ceremonies. I have been invited to and frequented other social events including annual group performances which showed their softer side. Colourful, cultural dances and the vocalizing of historical songs. All is well until their show is over and the socializing begins.
It appears very harmless. Oftentimes you will move to a different room and sometimes even a different location. Having completed their ceremonies, they become lax and free-spirited. They congregate and speak. This is symptom number one of Croatianitus. You believe you are in a regular conversation, however, when this group forms you will find that they begin speaking at a dB (decibel) level of perhaps 30. Very safe. As more of them enter the room, there are more in-depth discussions beginning. In order to be heard, the repartee of each mini-group grows in loudness. Suddenly, you notice that the traditional music has begun playing in the background. When did that occur? You are already beginning to notice a difference in your hearing.
Symptom number two is when you realize that you yourself have begun to annunciate and speak louder. This is an automatic self-preservation tactic. In order to be heard above the din you must assimilate with the masses. You lull yourself into a false sense of security at your ingenuity. Little do you realize that as the seconds and minutes tick by, you have gone from “normal-speaking” person voice to the “Croatian” speaking voice. This voice is at least three times louder than your normal speech and you feel comfortable because the “Croatians” smile at you happily and proudly as you have adjusted in order to join their world.
Symptom number three is the most fatal one and oftentimes is mistaken for tiredness or regular tinnitus. After cavorting with these cheerful and partying persons, it is time for you to go home. You start to say your goodbyes but you can’t hear your own voice. After much analysis I believe that this is the reason why these people give big hugs and double cheek kisses at the end of the night. No one can really hear them, and it is said that actions speak louder than words, so this is their way of showing you their joy and gratitude for your attendance.
Remedy for Croatianitus is a bit of a longer process. It is all about patience. You will notice that your ears will continue ringing. The buzzing will stop, usually by next morning. The newfound deafness could take up to a couple of days to clear, but you will get there.
The best way to ensure you don’t become prone to this illness is to limit exposure. After intense study on this group, I have found that a two-hour maximum exposure limit will allow you to hear in about one hour after departing their company. Anything longer than that and you are looking at the three day rule until full recovery.
How do I know all about this? I myself am a Croatian. I chanced upon Croatianitus after moving out of my parent’s house. As mentioned previously, there were six of us in that house and the Over-Talking (a.k.a. “speaking over another person while they are still talking” because we didn’t consider that rude). We knew we had to speak louder in order to be heard. THAT was our training ground. There was no “excuse me” or “pardon me for interrupting” it was survival of the fittest, or in this case, the loudest.
After departing the humble abode of my youth and moving in with Wiseguy hubby, he started lowering the volume on the tv set one night. He asked if I could still hear everything. I could. He lowered it again…and again…and again. Surprisingly, I could still hear every word being said. THAT was when I first realized there was something unique about being nurtured (trained) in a Croatian home.
EPILOGUE: It has been five hours since departing my last Croatian function.
- Congregating time after concert = 2 hours.
- Hearing in my right ear = returned after 2 hours.
- Hearing in my left ear = returned after 4 hours.