Tuesday, April 3, 2007

White noise

I whiz around at high speed first thing in the morning. The radio burbles in the background. Usually it’s the news from NPR, snippets of this and that. Someone is speaking from the White House. They have been speaking for a long time. As a former student of politics, I should pay heed, regardless of the message or content. The stumbling erratic delivery, ignoring the accent, is too halting and laboured. Like most people, my political affiliations are complex. Unlike most people, the complexity is aggravated by tiny irritations, such as when a person chooses to pause in a sentence. Pause at the wrong time, for too long or not long enough, and I’ll tear up my ballot paper in disgust.

I use the 7 available minutes to lay slip on my bowl. [translation = colour the clay pot that I made three months ago.] Spouse yells into the telephone receiver, at his poor mother. [translation = who is hard of hearing] I do not know who I feel more sorry for, his mother or him. She is learning how to use the computer. He, on the other hand, is a computer expert. They have no common language with which to communicate, even if she were able to hear the technical language he uses. The number of repetitions at an ever increasing volume, does damage to my blood pressure. Once each sentence is completed, and individual words clarified, the conversation progresses. Each new statement follows the same trajectory. I feel my creative juices dry out.

I turn the power on for the tape recorder instead to listen to Richard Dawkins who talks about “The God Delusion.” From one extreme to the other. Junior hurls his baby oatmeal, texture free, onto the floor due to inadequate temperature control. Time is of the essence before the mixture turns to cement on every surface that it touches. ‘believe your parents, do a raindance to the rain gods to get the rains to come’ I hear, as Mr.Dawkins reads from his book. That is enough information to send me out into the garden, to escape all noise and do some therapeutic watering instead.

I sprinkle and shower the plants as my neighbour pulls over in her car and alights onto the drive way. We meet, we greet. She requests visual confirmation of teeth progress. I oblige. My neighbour has the same difficulty with her hearing. I discover that it is very difficult to shout when your teeth are clenched together, a fact that I had been blissfully unaware of , up until now.
“What’s yur house number agin?” I point at the house where the number is displayed on the wall.
“Yur number? What is it?” she asks again. I attempt verbalization but my diction is poor.
“Say yit agin.” I point frantically at the numbers, the six inch numbers nailed to the wall.
“So what’s my number agin?” she queries. I have no idea. Since all house numbers are 5 digits, people rarely manage to learn more than their own house number.
“I’m not sure?” I mutter. She remembers, “so which way d’yah think 14590 ould be?” I point down the road to the left. “That way is up? Are yu sure?”
“WHY?” I shout.
“Oh darlin iz jus the mail carrier delivered this packet to me an it’s the wrong address.”
“Give it make to the postman and let him redeliver it,” I suggest to the octogenarian.
“Yu what?” I repeat, louder, with my numb lips attempting to enunciate.
“The ‘po’ what? I ken get what yur sayin. Say it agin.” Louder still, with lips working like a camel.
“Police! Whatdaya mean, the ‘police’?”
“NOT ‘POLICE,’ ‘POSTMAN’!” I yell at 50 decibels, misting up her glasses.
“Well, they’re no need to holler. I’m not deaf. Why didn’t yah jus say ‘mail carrier’ then I’d have known what yah were goin on about.”

So two syllables more and I save 50 decibels.

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