Just a collection of letters. Maybe just a word or two. A few random syllables in the right order can send you into paroxysms of joy, or put you on a tailspin into despair.
Some of the briefest phrases are life-changing, yet clichéd and trite enough to grace a Precious Moments figurine. Like “I do” or “I wuv you.” Others are predictable harbingers of doom, like “dude, watch this!” and “what the hell?” And some are precursors to something truly disgusting like “smell this” and “that was the dog.”
Sometimes just a monosyllabic murmur is enough to send you over the edge. Like a doctor saying “hmmm.”
In my defense, a doctor’s “hmmm” is far more dramatic when you’re in the stirrups and he’s staring at a part of you you’ve never even seen. A part of you that requires a speculum to communicate with the outside world.
The doctor’s “hmmm” was followed by a spate of other syllables, about “biopsies” and “possibilities” and “knowing by Tuesday at the latest.” Palliative phrases like “just to make sure” and “probably nothing” and “one in a hundred” were numerous, and welcome.
But really, nothing overpowers that “hmmm.”