The other day I was waiting outside the gymnasium at my daughter’s last soccer practice of the season. I remembered my headphones for a change and started listening to Pandora Radio. I’d forgotten how many stations I’d created over the years. There was a comfort in some of them, an instant feeling of joy just reading the band’s name. I chose Radiohead.
Before I left for this soccer practice, Michael and I discussed music and how certain songs and bands create something different in the body and mind when heard. He knew exactly which type of music did this for him. I sat there quiet, because I couldn’t readily name one. But sitting on the tile floor in the lobby of the YMCA, I realized that band for me has always been Radiohead.
In the past, I have read various articles about how certain types of music and visual images can instill a sense of euphoria, much like an orgasm, without being physically touched. I always laughed because nothing replaces good old fashioned touch for me, but listening to Radiohead in the headphones made me really think about it.
It is my go to music when I am trying to make art. It is comforting and disturbing at the same time and many a poem or story has been written with its steady beats in the background. There are times when I have been completely lost to the music. There have been times of euphoria.
I happened to be reading a book called “Curious Behavior” by Robert R. Provine and the first section of this book looks at the nature of yawning. With my healthcare background I am always interested in different types of body language and what they mean. It helps me get non-verbal clues about my patients. This chapter spoke to the mechanics of yawning and the reason they can be “contagious”. It remarked that yawning in animals often happens to periodically show the other animals in the group their teeth. Lesser male monkeys won’t yawn in front of the leader of the troop because they don’t want him to think they are questioning their position. This was all interesting, but I was most interested in the fact that the facial structure and muscles used to yawn are nearly identical to the ones used during an orgasm for both male and female.
Provine suggested a website where you could witness still photos of people at their climax called Beautiful Agony (www.beautifulagony.com). I went to the website but had to huddle in the corner in case some kids ran by to go to the restroom. I wasn’t sure what I would find. There are thousands of photos from mid-chest to the top of the head of people from around the world having an orgasm. These were self-submitted works and all very similar in several ways.
Most were lying in bed, the men bare chested and the women with tank tops or bras, all of them with heads on the pillow. There were a few people whose “orgasm face” were unique, but most truly did look like they were yawning. If I didn’t know about the website and they weren’t lying on a bed, I would have wondered why so many people had sent in photos of yawning. I found myself feeling voyeuristic in some senses but grossly underwhelmed in the erotic department. Two dimensional pictures of orgasms are NOT a turn on. In fact it just made me feel sleepy.
Being a person that asks questions, I started to wonder how each person obtained such a fleeting emotion in such a perfect shot. Did they take these pictures themselves? Was there someone there giving them an orgasm or were they enjoying self-pleasure? Were their reactions over-exaggerated because they knew at climax they would be having their picture taken? I need to know such things. I wanted to know why my hair never looks that damn good after orgasm or why I didn’t make such a dainty face?
The human condition has always been interesting to me. We are built in similar ways and have similar components that make us human, but we are unique by how we let our environment, culture, and beliefs shape our existence. I never knew a band and a yawn could tell me so much.