The Sound Of Silence

Ahh…. the first days of summertime: the birds are singing, the waves are crashing, the thunder is booming, the lawnmowers are roaring, the dogs are barking, the kids are screaming, the stereos are blasting, the cars are revving… ARGH! Stop the noise pollution!

I love summer. Who doesn’t? But the barrage of unpleasant clamor really kills it for me sometimes. What is it about the season that encourages others to turn up the volume and blast other’s ears off?

The noise pollution usually runs in a daily cycle. It starts off around 8:00 a.m., when your pesky next door neighbor decides to mow and weed whack his lawn. He doesn’t care about your town’s 9:00 a.m. noise ordinance. All he cares about is his patch of grass that he waters maniacally and trims every day. And the one spot he has trouble with just happens to be the closest one to your bedroom window. Back and forth, horizontal and vertical, over and over. Vroooooooom.

You rub your sleepy eyes as the neighborhood dogs, who are just as annoyed at your next door neighbor as you are, begin to bark. It first starts with the bellowing St. Bernard four houses down, followed by the staccato yip-yip-yip of the chihuahua across the street. Your dog decides to get in on the action, and jumps on your stomach so he can look out the window and join in on the chorus.

You finally wake up, feed the dog and throw on your robe and slippers. You decide to go outside and get the newspaper, which has been conveniently tossed on the street, next to the curb. As you bend over to pick it up, your head almost gets clipped by the garbage truck picking up this week’s remnants. Clunk. Clank. Thump. Grrrrr. You watch as the garbage men toss the trash into the truck’s big, black mouth, and then throw your now-empty cans into a heap on your lawn, their covers strewn about the middle of the street.

Irate, you stomp into the road to pick up the dented covers. As you’re about to cross the yellow line, you almost get run over by an Asian import blasting Eminem on its sound system, which probably cost more than the car itself. Thump… thump, thump thump-thump-thumpy-thump. Of course, the driver couldn’t see you from behind his tinted windows. Nor could he hear your choice four-letter words or screams because his music was so loud.

At this point, you’re really tired and annoyed, so it’s best for you to head back to bed. Just as your head hits the pillow, you hear the cacophony – a sound that is higher than the uppermost octave of a piano, and even worse than the sound your dog makes after you’ve accidentally stepped on his tail. That’s right, you’ve guessed it. Teenage girls.

Eeeeeeeeeeeee! Oh my God, and you know, and it’s like…” They come out in droves and walk down your street. The movies are too expensive, it’s too hot to ride their bikes, and their parents won’t drive them to the mall. So the only thing left for them to do is wander around outside while shrieking and giggling in high-pitched sounds you only thought a dog whistle could make.

You throw your pillow over your head and manage to close your eyes. You find yourself drifting off, imagining yourself on a quiet tropical island with a nice, cold drink in your hand. The warm ocean breezes surround you like a…

Ding-dong. Knock, knock.

“Who’s there?” you ask as you try and gather your composure.

“We’ve come to share the power and light of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

“I’m already Catholic!” you shout through the closed door.

Ding-dong. Knock, knock.

“I’m sorry, I’m not interested in Bible tracts today!” you sternly say.

“Huh? I’m only here to see if you wanted to donate to the Police Benevolence Association.”

“I donated last week!” you bark back with whatever energy you have left to muster.

Ding-dong. Knock, knock.

“Girl Scout Cookies!”

Ding-dong. Knock, knock. Ding-dong. Knock, knock. Ding-dong. Knock, knock.

After what seems like an eternity, the front-door visitors cease. At this point, you’re really hungry, so you decide to make yourself a sandwich and lay down in a lounge chair in the solace of your nice, quiet back yard.

“Hiya, stranger!” shouts your mowing-maniac next door neighbor, who is now donning an apron and spatula. He leans over your picket fence and asks if you’d like a burger.

“No, thanks,” you answer back, chewing slowly on your turkey-on-wheat. You peek into his yard and notice his whole family – all fifty of his first and second cousins – are behind him with beers in hand, rocking out to Billy Ray Cyrus: The Definitive Collection.

Your afternoon is shot.

His party dies around midnight. Finally! It’s time to get some sleep. You shut off all the lights, and pray for a good night’s sleep. One o’clock passes. Two. Three. Four. Four-thirty.

Mreeeeeeeeeeeeeow. Raowwwwwwwwwwww.

Wonderful. Female felines in heat, caterwauling. After stomping outside in your pajamas, throwing rocks, and finally turning the ice-cold garden hose on them, the animals finally leave their post under your bedroom window.

Peace. Finally. Five o’clock. Six. Seven.


That damned lawnmower again. And so starts another summer day…

It’s time to stop all this noise pollution. We need a day where lawnmowers don’t work, dogs are muzzled, garbage men forget to come pick up the trash, Honda Civics don’t start, teenage girls have sore throats, doorbells are broken, mullet rock CDs are snapped in half and neighborhood cats are finally fulfilled.

Many people complain that there are no national holidays in August. I propose a badly-needed one – EARth Day. Yes, a day to turn down the volume and give our ears and nerves a much-needed vacation from such auditory assaults. December shouldn’t be the only month to have silent, holy nights.

It is only then we can appreciate a much-overlooked luxury we have – the golden sound of silence. Try it – you just might like it. And you’ll get to sleep in late once again.

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