List five things you most dislike touching, then find five adjectives to describe each item (e.g. maggots - slithery, wriggly, writhing). Do the same for your other senses.
Five things I hate touching
1. Belly buttons
3. Raw pumpkin
5. Flannelette sheets
Belly buttons: It’s not just me touching them. I hate seeing other people touch them, too. This is my biggest phobia and it comes with a name – Omphalophobia. It’s hard to assign adjectives to the feeling, because a) it’s a phobia and therefore an irrational fear and b) because I can’t bring myself to touch my belly button. I will, instead, ascribe words that jump to my mind at the thought of touching my (or anyone else’s) belly button
I don’t know why these were the first real words to take up space in my mind (along with ick, yucky, eww etc) but they were. They were the images or the sensation I had when I contemplated touching that area.
Raw pumpkin (I love pumpkin, but have an allergy to raw pumpkin)
I have spent the past two years dealing with my son’s vomit via his Rumination Syndrome. I had to clean a lot of partially-digested food and bile from walls, floors, beds, blankets, sheets, cars, toilets, sinks and doors and so, quickly, built up a tolerance of the smell. However, one thing I never get used to was the touch of it against my skin as I stepped in it or wiped up the mess. So:
4. Scary (you slide across fresh vomit and you fear for safety)
1. Dusty (to me, the texture feels like dust upon my skin)
I’m not entirely sure of what use this exercise is, as I personally hate the overuse of adjectives and believe that if you have an adjective then you have the wrong noun. However, as FightDay Write Day is supposed to be an opportunity to put writing first in my day, I’ll have a go at writing a paragraph that uses at least two of the adjectives above.
Despite multiple doses of paracetamol and two cool baths, the child’s temperature remained high. Aided by his mother, I tried to place him in the bed, but he fought against it.
“Too rough,” he cried. “Too dusty.”
“It’s the sheets,” his mother explained as she pulled him back into her arms. “He hates flannelette.”
I understood and nodded. “You rest in the chair,” I said and began stripping the bed. The hospital’s supply cupboard was set for winter, but I knew the dispensary would carry cotton linen.
Rushing from the ward, I found a patch of vomit we’d missed earlier and slid several centimetres, leaving a trail of slimy bile in my wake. I’d deal with that later, but for now, the comfort of my patient came first.
Not my favourite exercise of all time, but I always enjoy the opportunity to pull paragraphs from nothing and see where they lead me. The sheets were the strongest image that I carried into the paragraph and I just allowed the setting to come from that. Once I set upon the sick child and his mother, it seemed obvious to include the vomit. As usual, my mind swung away from the belly buttons, which means I should explore the idea in a story at some point.
However, I did enjoy thinking about my hatred of certain tactile experiences, so I think I’ll continue with the other senses, but without the accompanying adjectives or paragraph.
5 things I hate to smell
1. Blue cheese. It’s mouldy. End of.
2. Cigarette smoke. Show me one non-smoker who lay on their death-bed and listed their only regret as never taking up cigarettes. You do that and I’ll allow you to blow smoke in my face.
3. Other people’s sweat (although Lee’s does not offend me at all. I’m sure George Clooney’s is fine, too.)
4. Cats. I know people love their cats. I do not. I particularly hate the smell they leave on everything.
5. Men’s feet (having 2 teenage boys with male teenage friends, this was a hard one to live with at times.)
5 things I hate to see
1. A child being smacked. I’m not saying I’ve never smacked a child. I have and I hate that I have. There’s always a better way to deal with discipline and violence against another person is never excusable.
2. A bruise on a woman’s body. It doesn’t matter how she got it, I’m ALWAYS going to assume a man hit her. I’m also aware that I bruise easily and I’d hate to think people assume that about my beloved husband.
3. Misused apostrophes on commercial signs (people have paid for that sign. The least the sign-writers can do is provide a proof-reading service)
4. Pay-by-the-hour parking in hospitals. You are really taking advantage of other people’s misfortune when you force them to pay.
5. Toast crumbs in the margarine container. To me it’s simple. You take a small amount of margarine and that’s it. You don’t take more than you need then put the rest back. I cook a lot. Do you really want toast crumbs in your cheese sauce? Same goes for Vegemite.
Things I hate to hear
1. Swearing. I hate it in everyone, but I especially hate it when I hear children swearing. I’m told swearers are more honest, but the fact that many writers swear shows this to be a lie. These people are paid to lie.
2. The beep of a smoke alarm that needs it's battery changed. As a Witness and a Census Taker, I heard a surprising number of these in the door-to-door work. I'd wonder how the occupants handled it.
3. The rasp of Velcro being pulled apart. Just rip my teeth out while you’re at it.
4. Furniture being scraped across wood. Pick it up, for crying out loud.
5. Music from a party after 11pm. Well, unless it’s an 80s retro-party with an emphasis on the years between 1979 and 1983. Then you can be as loud as you like. True story.
5 Things I hate tasting
1. Off milk. I can’t think of anything as bad as off milk. Not even number 4.
2. Dates. What I imagine cockroaches taste like, including the crunch and ooze as you bite into them.
3. Pawpaw. Smell and taste like old socks, which is fine in Parmesan Cheese, but not fruit.
4. Okay, this is going to be disgusting but it’s one that has stayed with me a long time. Snot. Yes, snot. 20 years ago I dated a man (or late teenager) who cried a lot and then kissed me. All I could taste was the snot at the back of his throat. It was disgusting and my stomach still turns when I think about it.
5. Sweat. I hate it when my face sweats and the drips into my mouth. Yeah, you know what I mean. It’s salty, but not like Samboy chips are salty.
So, things I hate on a sensory level. There are many more I could list, but these are the most apparent in terms of writing.