- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sometimes you have to pretend in order to be polite.

The other day, I was talking to a co-worker in my office when his stomach gurgled.

It wasn’t a short, muffled gurgle — you know, like somebody trying to whisper while drinking a glass of water.

No, it was a long, loud, “look at me, I’m talking!” gurgle — the kind where you suspect the “gurgler” has swallowed a midget who is now yelling for help. “Let me out of here! I’m not food!”

Stomach gurgles sometimes really sound like a person talking — usually a drunken radio announcer with Tourette’s syndrome. This one was like that.

Politeness calls for pretending deafness to stomach noises, which I did. Unfortunately, I am what’s known as a “sympathetic.” I unintentionally tend to “mirror” people around me. If someone yawns, I yawn. If someone sneezes, I sneeze.

And if someone’s stomach gurgles …

So as I was ignoring my co-worker’s stomach noises, my own stomach erupted with its own “Save me! I’m too young to digest!” I wasn’t hungry because I had eaten recently, but my stomach still responded.

I am certain my co-worker ignored my gurglings as I ignored his. So we continued our conversation while our stomachs continued theirs:

His stomach: “This is not what I was expecting.”

My stomach: “Actually, it’s not so bad in here. I’ve got cable.”

His stomach: “Not likely. It’s probably spaghetti.”

My stomach: “You’re right. My bad.”

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