For most people struck by unfathomable shock or horror, AAAAA!, NOOOO! and WHAAA!? are used pretty much interchangeably.
Strictly speaking, however, AAAAA! is generally used right before something horrible happens, while NOOOO! is used afterward, as an expression of both agony and disapproval for the current state of events; say, a train car laying on your wife. WHAAA!? is usually an expression of both bitter emotional pain and confusion; say, the death of a loved one by gerbils or thumbtacks.
Knowing the correct usage of AAAAA!, NOOOO! and WHAAA!?, along with falling to one’s knees and/or running in tight, concentric circles, is an important part of the a well-structured panicking procedure.
You: My wife’s just been run over by a train! AAAAA!
Train driver: Don’t you mean ‘NOOOO!’?”
You: Oh, yeah. NOOOO!
Train driver: Only it was a toy train.
Train driver: I think you mean ‘WHAAA!?'”
You: Sorry. WHAAA!?
Train driver: Idiot.
Despite a racing heart and constricting blood vessels, several things should be kept in mind as you wail in agony:
- Instead of tearing at your garments, tear at the garments of the guy standing next to you. Garments are expensive!
- Don’t exaggerate. Screaming MY BABY! MY BEAUTIFUL BABY! is acceptable, but only if your baby is, indeed, beautiful. There is nothing more awkward or confusing for emergency professionals than having to find a “beautiful baby” inside a burning house or mangled minivan when, in fact, your baby is only average-looking. Try screaming, “My baby. My weird-looking baby who resembles Steve Buscemi,” instead.
- If some unseen demonic presence is stalking you inside your house, screaming WHO ARE YOU? probably won’t get you the answer you were looking for, like, “it’s just me, Gary. Can I have one of those mini pizzas from your freezer?”
- Keep your religious beliefs to yourself. Screaming WHY, GOD? WHY? after a public school explosion is inappropriate and insensitive to the parents of the blown-up atheist boy.
- Why not combine both your grief and hunger in one exclamation, say, YUUUUMMM! No one ever comes upon a refinery fire and screams “yum.” Maybe a fireman will hand you a free Power Bar.
- Avoid profanity. Screaming WHAT THE F*CK! as a giant, extraterrestrial toothworm sucks you into its gullet will be completely ignored by prime-time news organizations.
- As you cradle your daughter’s head in your lap and desperately claw the sleeping pills out of her throat, don’t scream SHE DIDN’T DO NOTHIN WRONG! This is a double negative. And there is a G, last time I checked, in “nothing.” And it would appear she did, in fact, do something wrong, by the look of things.
So, the next time the worst thing that’s ever happened to you happens, stop. Think for a second. Now, scream.