You know that stupid saying “yawning is contagious”? I’m not sure I buy it, but I do know yawns are seriously powerful reflexes. And to this day, they get me in trouble. Well, kind of.
In junior high, I had a funny (albeit occasionally prickly) teacher who wrote students up for yawning, as he found it rude and disrespectful. Yawning, he said, was akin to belching or speaking out of turn in class.
“Is my lesson boring you?” he’d say, shaming the sleepy (or just unlucky) yawning pre-teen in front of everyone.
“No,” the student would respond, either fearfully or unpleasantly.
“Well then why are you yawning?”
The instructor didn’t seem to know or care that yawning can be caused by more than just sleepiness, if you will. Some argue we yawn to breathe better or get our muscles moving. More often than not, it’s an indicator of fatigue, which our society of course does not take kindly to. Most of us were going through growth spurts though, so he and other yawn nazis should have been more understanding.
I never got in trouble for yawning in class, perhaps because I was well-rested those years (or just really good at covering my mouth when I wasn’t), but ever since then, I’ve been careful not to yawn in the presence of authority figures or during important meetings. I saw people get reprimanded for it in college lectures, and I’ve even been the subject of asinine jokes upon yawning on the subway or airplane.
“Wow, you must be drained!” an old guy will usually say. I smile, but what I really want to say is, “Wow, that’s hysterical, dickhead.”
I apologize for the expletive, but I’ll venture to say it’s necessary in this case. I’m genuinely curious: How can I stop myself from yawning? I’ve felt yawns come on at work, and the only thing I’ve been able to do is place a hand over my mouth to mask what some would consider sheer rudeness. Is there anything I can do to, you know, not yawn?