Babies only seem to have room for one emotion. It’s as though joy or hurt or hunger literally takes up so much room inside them that another feeling can’t get in till the first one’s gone. Distract a crying child with a sweet and the scream can change to a happy gurgle in an instant: there are few things as satisfying as the sound of “WAAAAA – ooh!”
As they get older, children start having room for two or three emotions at once until, by the time they get to be teenagers, they can simultaneously manage any combination of anger, lust, misery, unfocused excitement and existential dread without even blinking.
And then you get to your 30s, and you realise that while you haven’t quite lost the ability to feel a single pure emotion, the majority of them are now mixed: layered on top of each other like Baileys and schapps, or just shaken together like a margarita. And then you realise that some of the combinations are so familiar that, like cocktails, they now deserve their own name*. I therefore present some of my personal emotional cocktails.
Angilt. Ingredients: anger + guilt. A very common combination, whose name handily sounds like some kind of elvish currency. Can be felt in situations where, for example, you’ve upset an annoying friend. Or at work, if you’re being blamed for something you didn’t do but you know you’ve screwed up something else that your manager doesn’t know about yet. Or if your partner’s bought you something expensive for your birthday that you specifically told them you didn’t want.
Creavoidance. Ingredients: creativity plus avoidance. When the only thing on earth that you want to do is sit down and write (or paint or make music) and yet you’ll do anything at all to put it off, down to and including cleaning out the drains. These two go together surprisingly often, and thanks to Twitter you don’t even need drains any more.
Dislight. Ingredients: disgust + delight. For example, getting a big sloppy wet kiss from your adorable child, or being licked by a cute puppy. (Or you can probably think of some examples to do with various icky bodily things but I’m ok not hearing about them.)
Hungitation. Ingredients: hunger plus irritation. When you’re in need of food but feel it’s being denied to you for some reason, e.g. other people are being too slow about choosing a restaurant, or the oven is wilfully refusing to have your meal ready. Aka Irrational Irrihunger (unless it’s Rational Irrihunger, which is entirely possible.)
Perijoy. Ingredients: peril + joy. As experienced by the Doctor, James Bond, and similar: the more difficult things get, the happier they are. Can be experienced in milder form by ordinary humans when faced with the Guardian cryptic crossword.
Reliefgrief. Ingredients: self-explanatory. For example, at the end of a relationship that had become very difficult to cope with, but you still love them. Or, more frivolously, if you’ve finally finished that DVD box set you’ve been compulsively watching all weekend and are now free to do something else with your life.
Tingleterror. Ingredients: tingliness + terror, obviously. Commonly felt at the start of a promising blind date or when just about to give a presentation that could decide your career. Or when you’re on a wedge in Trivial Pursuit and you’re fairly sure, but not completely sure, that the answer to the question is ‘Truro’.
Wheetigo. Ingredients: ‘wheeee!’ plus vertigo. Experienced when looking down from a cliff or tall building, it is the sensation of feeling simultaneously terrified of falling and somehow convinced that you can fly. Basically a literal version of tingleterror.
Any other suggestions?
*Names are important, especially when creating a new thing from existing ingredients. I bet the coalition wishes it had simply named itself Libtory rather than having the label ConDems pinned on it, for example – it might have had a slightly better chance of not coming across as evil. (Or perhaps not.)