I’m particularly sensitive to noise. In fact, I would consider myself a noise-phobe and with good reason. Having lived over Manhattan’s only scrap metal yard for fifteen years my daily wake-up call was a giant magnet dropping cars outside the window. In the street, two fork-lifts beeped out of sync for ten hours a day while homeless people were paid to bang metal radiators apart as percussion to trucks dumping tons of aluminum outside the front door. It was like living with the soundtrack of a Road Runner cartoon. Add New York sirens, boom-boxes, drilling, car stereos and ‘Yo mutthafuckahs” and it’s no wonder my ears would take refuge at my summer cottage on Haliburton Lake in Ontario, Canada.
Water carries sound. I’m not talking about yodeling into a glass of Evian. I’m talking about conversations that can be heard across a wide expanse of water. The lake is three miles long and maybe two miles wide, dotted with pine-crested islands. When the sun slips into its pink negligee for evening, the lake turns the color of borscht dotted with loons rather than potatoes. And except for their plaintive warble all you can hear is blessed silence.
The day after Labor Day, it seemed every door on the lake slammed and summer was over. It was a lonely dawn. Then, a rare serenity drifted in and I stepped out on to my deck for my morning coffee. It was so quiet I could hear the caffeine coursing through my veins and a faint conversation on the lake. I gazed far across the water and saw two women, dots in the distance, in two canoes. They were about a mile away on the other side conversing at a normal sound level. I heard one woman from her canoe ask her friend in the other canoe, “You know that game show in the 50’s, Beat The Clock. Who was the host of that show?” It was as if they were sitting next to me. So I yelled across the lake, “Bud Collyer!” A mile away the woman exclaimed, “Bud Collyer! Yes!” A pause of bewilderment. “Where did that come from?” She must have thought it was the Great Indian Game Show god. To this day I don’t think they ever realized it was some guy sipping coffee with a head full of useless information. Now that, my friends, is an endangered species named, ‘quiet.”
Stay tuned for the shattering of silence in my next posting,
“Night of The Screaming Lesbians”