I have become a woman bothered by noise. The irony of this, taking into consideration that I am not what one would call “soft spoken” or “quiet”, is not lost on me. I am nothing if I am not self-aware.
I am the grumpy neighbor who throws open the window and shouts to no one in particular, “Pipe Down Over There, People!”. And then cannot understand why they don’t (or won’t). I could just step outside — like a normal person would — and request that they turn down the hip-hop or the salsa music, but that would require far too much human interaction and, you know, energy. Plus, I have never been accused of being a “normal person”. So there!
I am the irritated co-worker who has to yell to be heard and who, by doing so, adds to the cacophony by screaming at the top of her lungs, “Can You Please Be Quiet? I Can’t Hear Myself Think!”. I behave as if I am in the midst of thinking deep thoughts or solving problems of great magnitude instead of what I am actually doing, which is, more often than not, wondering what the hell I am doing occupying a particular space, puzzling over why I came into the kitchen in the first place. (Oh, yeah, table 12 needs their seventeenth Coke refill!)
I have been known to pick my head up during dinner at home to inquire “What Is All That Racket?” only to realize that “that racket” is the sound of children playing outside. Can’t they play indoors? Don’t they know it’s 6 PM? Where are their parents? What is going on in this neighborhood, anyway? It’s going to hell in a hand basket — a hand basket that is seemingly full of noisemakers — that’s what!
Don’t even get me started on landscapers. They are every suburbanite’s nightmare — the annoying equivalent to the city dweller’s jackhammer-wielding construction worker. What ever happened to raking leaves, anyway? Why must we blow them all over creation with a machine that reaches the same decibel level as a jet engine? And why must this be done at all hours of the day and night? Why? It’s like living in a wind tunnel.
And then there are the weekend warriors, those handy men and women who like to build things on their days off. The folks in my area must ALL have received table saws last Christmas. They’ve broken them out since the weather has warmed up.
What are they building, anyway? Shelves? My money is on shelves. People cannot have too many shelves. All that shrieking of wood against metal — the high-pitched sounds of doing — is enough to drive even the most complacent person up a wall. I am not the most complacent person. Can’t they just go to IKEA and buy their shelves? It’s as if I live amongst a bunch of lumberjacks. I may as well move to a logging camp!
Some days my husband, the much put-upon and beloved, Fang, comes home to discover that I am running every air conditioner in the house. He likes to point out that it is beautiful outside, that we are the only ones for miles around using their air conditioning on a balmy 60 degree humidity-free day.
“I know, ” I tell him, “but it blocks out the noise — the infernal, constant, mind-blowing noise!” Fang, when faced with a crazy woman who is throwing up her hands and carrying on about mowers, shelf builders, and hopscotch players, usually takes this opportunity to point out the flaw in my logic, which is that the air conditioning generates noise, too. “Yes, ” I tell him, “I know that. But it’s MY noise!”
Luckily, Fang is a kind and patient man. Rather than try to talk some sense into me, which would be futile, he just goes ahead and puts on a sweatshirt, turns on the Mets’ game, and joins me for dinner. The only noises we have to worry about are the sounds of each other chewing and the occasional crack of a ball hitting a bat. Those are noises that I can live with!