The Willis Startle Reflex

One of the ways I know I am related to my family members (since we don't look a thing alike) is that we share a strong and peculiar startle reflex. If you come around a corner too quickly at a Willis girl, an ear-shattering "WHAAAAp!" will come barrelling out to meet you. Or sometimes it comes out as a multi-syllabic "WhuuAH!"

I've made this sound in countless movie theaters and household hallways, but before this morning I had never unleashed it directly on a perfect stranger. When I opened the door to leave the house this morning, a stocky man was lumbering up the walkway, about three feet away. I did not expect anybody to be there, and the startle reflex that commenced surely woke up any oversleepers in the zip code. I gathered myself enough to eloquently explain, "You just scared the crap out of me!" He was there to drop off one of the dozens of junk flyers left on our porch every week. I told him that we weren't interested in the flyer anyway, and tried to sound apologetic for most certainly scaring the crap out of him as well. Though I can't be sure; his startle reflex, if I triggered it, was of the silent and respectable sort. He sure does have a story to tell his friends, though - the crazy lady who opened the door and screeched in his face.

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