February 11, 2018

The Silence Is Deafening

I'm the kind of person that needs a lot of sonic distraction.

I can't sleep out in the middle of the country unless there are wolves howling, trains chugging, or the wind whipping. Absolute silence keeps me awake at night.

In college, I didn't just listen to music while I wrote a paper or studied for a test. I listened to music while on the London Tube or sitting in the middle of a Burger King in Leicester Square.

Some might consider listening to the radio while driving a distraction. As for me, it's a good way to focus on the task at hand.

So, imagine my discomfort today when I attended a puppet show that had practically no soundtrack at all.

I might as well have been watching a show of mimes. Only the mimes were wearing costumes that looked like giant hands and carrying umbrellas to look like jellyfish.

The problem, however, wasn't that the auditorium was silent. It's that the lack of sound coming from the stage meant that all the other sounds in the house were amplified.

All the coughing children and their fluish parents.

The stuffy-nosed child behind me lying on her father's lap.

The tike who insisted on narrating the show with his observations, like "He's counting how many!" and "Pink!" and "There's two of them!"

Thanks, buddy. We know. We're watching the same show as you.

The woman sitting next to me was wrestling with a plastic bag and eating trail mix out of it. The smell of chewed peanuts intermingled with some personal care product she'd used that reminded me of industrial-strength public restroom air freshener.

The silence was making me nauseous. I was dying for some music or dialogue.

Mummenschanz had been haunting me for the greater part of 30 years—or even more—after watching the TV commercial for it on repeat as a child. I never knew exactly what it was.

And when I saw the troupe of dancers-slash-contortionists-slash-puppeteer-mimes were performing locally, I figured it was time I found out.

But in the end, I couldn't watch it.

At least, I couldn't just watch it.

I'm sure this falls under the category of "It's not you; it's me." I take the blame. Others seemed to be enjoying the show.

But I couldn't even concentrate on the show with all that hacking and sniffling and rattling and chatting and vibrating of a cell phone two seats down from me.

I got a brief reprieve when one of the skits was about a frog trying to catch a fly. Thank god for the buzzing of that fly.

But once it ended, I knew I had to leave. I couldn't take it anymore.

At least now I know.

Related Posts:
Dark Matters
The Sounds of Silence
Dulling the Senses

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