I live with the noisiest man on the planet. He’s never met a volume control he didn’t like. He plays his Les Paul or Strat in the garage, all amped up. That doesn’t bother me much because he’s a great guitarist. But when the plates in the kitchen cabinets start bouncing to the thump of his buddies’ drums and bass guitar—that’s where I draw the line.
I stumble into the garage, flick the light switch off and on, and make the “cut throat” sign. I flash a Cheshire cat smile. Now that’s tact. Nothing, not even banging on the wall with a meat mallet or setting off the burglar alarm, works as well.
Flipping the breaker would be ideal—except that the electrical box is in the garage.
The man has radios and assorted noisemakers throughout the house, and as he goes from room to room, he turns one of them on. He never turns one of them off, mind you, when he leaves a room.
And the maddening thing is, since I’m now an expert at tuning out, it takes me some time to realize my house is a jumble of noise. It’s only after I’ve read the same sentence 15 times without making sense of it, or when I omit nothing from the chocolate cupcakes—except, of course, the chocolate . . . . That’s when I calmly, yet assertively suggest that he “Turn It Down. Please!”
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not an idle gripe. S is also for sweet, which to me is one of the most important ingredients in that weird concoction called man. The man himself can cook, and he laughs when I whistle. He’s my biggest (6 ft. 5; 240 lb.) fan. He coined the perfect nicknames for our daughters: Paddington, Bobo, and Squonk. He’s also the world’s largest repository of whale and elephant jokes.
He’s sweet. Who wouldn’t love a man like that?
I could continue, but since this post is supposed to be about silence and I haven’t gotten to it yet, I’ll just say how grateful I am when it happens. When the man leaves the house, the silence is as refreshing as a juicy slice of watermelon on the Fourth of July. After I’ve danced around stirring up silence (and dust) in all the rooms, I run to my desk and let it all fall back down around me.
I write! I read what I’ve written—out loud—and I write some more. It’s so much fun.
After a while I might even turn on Pandora—on low volume, of course. I read somewhere that Baroque music was great to get into the state called flow. It works for me.
Besides, by that time he’s usually pulling into the driveway.
Do you write best in silence? To music? Or does it matter?