LIVIN’ LA VIDA LOUD

I live a small, but happy life. During the last quarantined year, my life has become a little smaller…and quieter. I share my home with two cats who take continental pleasure in ignoring me, and while there are always music playing in my home, it exists at coffee shop level, not club around the corner level.

When I visited my brother a month ago, I steeled myself for hyperstimulation. He is a talker. A loud talker. And he shares his home with his wife and two daughters…who are all…you guessed it! Talkers! Throw in three dogs and a pair of parents-in-law and you have something executively produced by Baz Luhrmann.

The little one would watch some Barbie-On-Ice movie on her tablet (do four year olds have tablets?!), the teenager would watch some TikTok thing-thing on her tablet, my lovely sister-in-law would chat from the kitchen, my brother would be chatting back while watching some car show at 6million decibels.

If my eardrums atrophy, will I die?

But you get used to that, especially when you love the talkers. And then the quiet of home – while usually comforting and familiar – can feel less friendly.

But home has noises too, let me tell ya. My neighbours are an interesting bunch. I wish I knew less about them. But they are screamers. So I know a lot.

Take the grandma. When the family enjoys a barbeque over the weekends in their garden (which – by the way – exists right next to my bedroom) she contributes to conversation by intermittently shouting “I crave condensced milk!”

Mom, a fiery red-head with the slight coloring of someone who needs a long vacation, works hard so she is in no mood to come to you when you call for her. So when the youngest, Mary, takes a dip in the swimming pool (also next to my bedroom) and suddenly feels the urge to ask her mum something, this is what ehoes in my room:

MOM!

WHAT!

COME HERE!

I CAN’T!

PLEASE?!

I’M BUSY MARY, WHAT DO YOU WANT?!

COME LOOK HERE I FOUND THIS BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLY AND IT WANTS TO LAND ON MY HEAD I THINK! COME LOOK, COME LOOK, COME LOOK!!

I CAN’T NOW MARY I’M SEWING YOUR SISTER’S DANCE DRESS AND YOU KNOW I ONLY HAVE TODAY TO DO IT! CALL YOUR FATHER AND SHOW HIM!!

DAAAAAAD!!!

Bye-bye afternoon nap. Cats are hysterical and take three days to get out from under the bed. Paint starts chipping from walls.

Then there’s Mary’s uncontrollable screaming while swimming. This really high-pitched, wordless sound that takes me back – every single fucking time – to that thing that Courtney Cox did in the movie Scream. The first time I heard it I was busy doing my washing in the kitchen. The blood-curdling scream, followed by a massive splash in their pool moved me to press my panic button.

Everyone was very sorry when the security people arrived but that kid is still murdered every Friday and Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

And don’t think for a second if the family members are all in their house that the screaming tones down…

Their teenage son finds joy in watching his TV so loudly that I now have to suffer through the bullshit that teenage boys inhale on television.

I don’t even want to talk about the crap on TV that teenagers are exposed to…

Then there’s dear old dad. A quiet, unassuming man with thinning blond hair and a meaningful beer belly. Who is also a handyman…

You have no idea what a person goes through when a drill goes off next to your head at 5am on a Saturday morning. You have no idea of the horror…

I also don’t want to talk about the goddamn leaf blower. God may have made the leaves, but the devil made the blower.

As I’m sitting here in my room, trying to read and bothering no-one, the soothing sounds of oont-oont-oont are drifting in and out of my room as the teenager properly exploits his parents’ absence by blasting techno house music shit into the great, dark night of suburbia. I know they’re at a function coz mom was shouting it earlier to Mary.

Oh well. My cats pee on their flowers, so who am I to complain? But if you have any ideas about covertly breaking leaf blowers, feel free to submit ideas here…

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