SOUNDS OF SILENCE

Wind chimes. How harmonically jingly in gentle breezes and yet so vexatiously clangy. I am not impressed with the sounds of banging instruments when they unpityingly violate my sleep patterns. My boyfriend had them hanging on his patio, which backs his bedroom. This vision, that was planted in my brain, still remained. And in restless dreams I walked alone, since my man could basically sleep through a cataclysmic explosion. I suppose my morning nose blowing is equally as infuriating. But he did lovingly relocate the bellish jinglers. It was better than asking him to put in triple paned windows.

In the beginning of our relationship, I left my beau’s house with a predominant nose growth after fibbing about the chimes not bothering me. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the dang things were driving me crazy. As much as I didn’t like disrupting his noisy oasis, I really needed my beauty sleep. But I must say, his melodistic guitar playing, joke telling, and pet parrot noises never go unappreciated. Though he regularly turns on his radio, when most of the time he isn’t even in the room. Ten percent of the time he listens to a fishing station, and ninety percent of the time the background noise is for the benefit of his bird. Maybe he feels less lonely when I’m not around is more my guess. My quest for the splendor of silence can be extremely conflicting since he can say something and I’ll respond, “Were you talking to me???” Half the time I hear nothing, while other times I can practically hear a pin drop in Arizona. If I were to get a hearing aid, I’m afraid I will be hearing pins drop in Australia.

Other common sounds hang heavily in the air like loud music. Make that sirens, car horns, dirt bikes, catfights, electric power motors, hedgetrimmers, passing airplanes, garbage trucks, my growling stomach, and the running toilet. Thankfully I haven’t heard little voices in my head. I did always wonder what mating jackrabbits would sound like. I would rather hear that than listen to horizontal conjugating human beings, which could ultimately lead to several long-term noises later. Such as babies who like breaking sound barriers. When my girls were little, I never heard so much screaming. I had to remind them to tone it down a bit or they would throw off flight patterns. I’m sure the airport noise abatement program was designed specifically to ensure the expeditious handling of children in public. No one should have to suffer because someone else had the disadvantage of breeding a squealer.

Same goes with grown children. My oldest daughter never hesitates to hassle me and will discriminatorily deplore, “The older I get, the more I sound like you.” Thus begins the sorry plight of what I have biologically inflicted upon her. Not to mention both of us being impassioned matriarchs who know that there aren’t any quiescent stages of motherhood. Surely she hasn’t forgotten the times I wanted her to wear a muzzle throughout every one of my shopping trips. She took the timorous step forward to spill details of our similarities, since she now has a power struggling female pre-teen. Many times she’s bowed and prayed, hoping contempt will not pervade. It has the same echoing significance that Dearest of a Mommy Joan Crawford used on her daughter Christina when she said, “Your room looks like a two-dollar-a-week furnished room in some two-bit back street town in Oklahoma. Get up and clean this mess!” So it’s no shock to my system when my daughter repeats me or makes me feel somewhat responsible for her having a girl. Sometimes just to silence her I have to say, “Did you know that Will Rogers once quoted: Never miss a good chance to shut up?” I suppose I’d better listen intently to her or I could be under careful scrutiny and the subject of another scathing mother daughter memoir.

I’m sure canines have every right to be in the neighborhood as I do. But I’m amazed at what persistent dogitude it takes to snarl at every passer. Last night there was a race going on in my yard, when my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a furry fight, that disturbed my good night and precious sounds of silence. In the naked porch light I saw, three scurrying animals, maybe more. A neighbor’s Sheepdog was breathless after continuous barking and chasing cats in circles. If I wanted that sort of entertainment, I’d go sit in the Kalahari Desert and flag down wildlife. They didn’t have an inkling about the Messianic secrets of silence. They would rather hit the broad band bundle of nerve fibers of my brain. “Fools” I said, “You do not know, how important sleep is for that morning glow! Hear my words that I might teach you, take my arms that I might reach you to stop that incessant pandemonium.” But my words, like silent raindrops fell. Every time I hear howling, I find myself singing another ballad, All by myself, I wanna be, all by myself.

To think I pay a premium voice data surcharges for my resounding cell phone. And a 2am car alarm makes me want to heave a brick through the windshield of the blasted tormenter. This is where basic rifle marksmanship is needed. But golden silence can be rather suspicious since it’s the sound mountain lions make when they are prowling around your house. I’m glad both my boyfriend and I don’t live near the metro, where words of prophets are yelled through subway walls, and railroad halls. But we can’t escape thoroughfares filled with running automobiles, ‘neath the halo of every street lamp, where muscles imminently start to cramp. Lights flash out their warning and road rage is unwelcomely forming. I can’t help but say, hello traffic my old friend, I’ve come to loathe you once again. It’s like having a Barbie accessory pass through my digestive tract.

Don’t ask.

So much for peace. I try to be grateful that I even have my hearing.

MAN CAVING

I spend a lot of time at my boyfriend’s house. Before I collected enough bravery to forge forward into the mighty man cave, there were things worth investigating. Like if he showered. Or if he kept a clean house. And his bedding. Cotton? Satin? Former girlfriend? I knew I wouldn’t find any potpourri. And did he grill? I have this persistent condition that keeps me from starvation. It’s called hunger.

If I had wanted to lose this guy in 10 days, I would have used the reprehensible shenanigans of showing up at his place with flowery needlepointed pillows and wedding magazines while whining incessantly. Or, I could have simply placed a scorpion inside his bedsheets. But because he was a keeper, I chose to hold off on the whining and revealing my mean streak. This man is definitely life imitating art, thus living in beautiful surroundings and setting off a series of elaborate delectables from the outside rotisserie. Every brushstroke of barbeque sauce is his art form and I am in awe of his established patterns of preparation. Before I delve any further into his awesomeness, there were still some concerns.

Opening anything inebriating and drinking it can therefore alter his main meal responsibilities. In a split five minute distractment, ye old grillskeeper can char meat if he has inhaled his fair share of spirits and wanders away. It wasn’t too difficult deliberating whether or not I wanted my future dinners to be medium rare or seared to the point of calling the fire department. So I remind the roaster that the grill clock is ticking. I wouldn’t want to read visitants their last rites. Local funeral homes are holding my pre-sworn affidavits in case of botulism or fatal well-doneness. But my man has potential. First of all he has only incinerated the meat once, and I’ve had some pretty spoiled brats. He does keep the phone number for a good pizza parlor available. Yet he will never have the light-starved stagnation of a cold grill. I did want to send him to a college that offers degrees in eco-friendism and folklore studies, so he doesn’t repeat the same old stories. Hopefully our garden parties won’t take a dreadful descent when my man brags about being politically conservative.

The man cave doors are always open to the patio, so it’s nothing to walk into a room and see a curious coon staring up at me. I’m sure they are drawn in by the waft of charcoal broiled scents. Their visits are such happy ones that I jump up and down with agitation. Then I shoo them out just like I do with birds and cockroaches. My sweetheart told me he needed to call the exterminator, for the fiftieth time. Looking for the number, I risked disease opening his drawers to crud and rodent droppings. I would hate to be hospitalized for hantavirus. I’m just grateful the man washes his dishes and wears clean clothes.

Rest assured though, the resident ambassador of indoor plumbing has fresh towels to accommodate bathroom attendees. But lawn weeds have popped up all over the place like pimples on adolescents. The bastion of manliness sounded like a broken record when he declared, “I’ve got to call those lawn people.” Knowing his humor, he’ll probably ask me to pull a few of the buggers in exchange for drinks, grilled meals, sleeping accommodations, and swigging his wine.

Those man cave drinking rituals began rubbing off on me. You can lead a horse to water, but she might prefer several smooth Cabernets. While pouring he tells me, “Say when.” I can’t ever seem to say “Stop.” Thankfully the kitchen didn’t flood. Although there have been times I’ve been on the floor sopping up fermented remains as well as trying to get some back into my glass. Waste not, want not. It’s never a good idea to get bombed during side dish gestation. Interestingly enough, walls tend to start moving by themselves. I never feel particularly inspired scouring my boyfriend’s kitchen floor, which is basically the craziest thing I’ve done in the name of love and inebriation. I find myself delivering slurred soliloquies on how not to screw things up during dinner development. He likes kisses in the interim. Except embracing can lead to varying degrees of difficulty, like the sight of a hickey. In which case, I’d have to cover it with a turtle neck in 85 degree weather to avoid embarrassing comments.

Another downside to man caving is that you can gain twenty pounds sitting in a lawn chair gobbling on grilled goodies and leave needing liposuction. My belly suddenly drops like a feed sack. I end up having my beau wrap a large beach towel around my waist and shimmy it at the speed of however fast he can turbo twist the fat away. He doesn’t worry like I do. He occupies his time thinking up his next grub grilling concoctions. The kind of higher superior who created grilling cannot be the same maker who came up with sagging skin. When I praise my guy on his six-pack, he knows I’m referring to his brand of beer.

Now that the king of the cave has made me a queen-like integral invitee, I have given it some rather codified girlie touches. I do think we make a tightly knit twosome. And on most days, his place seems to be engulfed with nothing more than his sweet beau-ish company, the strums of his guitar, and looking at the grill wondering who is going to clean it. Before ruining my sterling status as his girlfriend, he should know that I don’t have the controlling desire to take over his barbequing enjoyment. Nor do I own a scorpion.

INSIDE THE AUTHORS STUDIO

The kind of being I normally find attractive depends on my mood. If I’m sitting passively enjoying an episode of Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton, I might be attracted to the type of masculinity who has the love of words. But if I’m interrupted by a terribly eerie home invader, I might be more attracted to a serrated kitchen blade aimed at slaying the aggressor.

I was a newcomer to southern Cal. One evening while lounging on my couch being captive audience to Actors interviewee James Gandolfini, I broke out in a stunned condition of watcher’s block, prompted by something insidious crawling on my carpeting. The distressing part was that it had already made its way to my dining room which was clear across the room from the open french door where I was sure it came in. I could have previously stepped on it with my bare feet either leaving evil ruins in my carpet fibers, or precipitating all kinds of anger from the stranger. It’s too bad I didn’t have any fabulous footage of the large eight legged tarantusaurus that was enjoying my plush lodging and eclectic scenery. I wanted to tell it that I only do tours on Tuesdays, and more precisely with humans. I acknowledged it with a “Heil Hitler” salute, although I would rather Prince Charming showed up on my doorstep. Or a Chippendale. I never imagined that one of Charlotte’s Web-by residents would make itself at home. A thief would have been less creepy than this critter. Trouble soon festers when two opposites find it hard to exist together under one roof.

Meanwhile my cat Stella, who might just as well have answered to Bashful, decided to combat the creature by sitting there silently staring at it. Unlike a dog, who would have bravely gone before me tackling the monster. I could have used a little help with the slaughter. But I suppose she didn’t want to get her claws dirty or mess up her hair. The beast was having absolutely no luck at all attracting females. I’m a non-violent person, though I’m sure I could respond rather Al Caponishly if I needed to. In retrospect I should have said, “This house is protected by both a security alarm system and a woman in the midst of menopause. Guess which one is far more murderous?”

I tiptoed closer to get a better look at the varmint, staging an ongoing effort to not reveal any hint of my horror. I wanted James Lipton to jump out of the television screen to use his coaxing on the beast since he is very persuasive at getting his guests to provide personal information about themselves. For a minute there, I considered asking the arachnid if I could call a cab for it or inquire how it felt about flesh wounds. But I had more intelligent questions to ask such as, “What is your favorite word? What is your least favorite word? What turns you on? What turns you off? What profession other than home invader would you like to attempt?” I mean if I was going to have someone in my house, I might as well strike up a stimulating conversation.

During my own interviewing process, the bad brute scurried swiftly out the door like a racehorse suddenly released. I followed it out and found it slithering underneath the threshold. I thought to myself, ‘Oh goodie. I get to see it again sometime.’ The next day I described the entity to a co-worker who said, “Sounds like a tarantula.” I went out and bought a sonic plug-in for keeping arachnids away and I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of it since.

My distress did not stop there. Arachnids have cousins.

Sitting in bed writing on another occasion, I caught a glimpse of a ginormous web outside the door with another sickening spider. Only this time it was a black widow, sending me into another arachnophylactic shock. Who was I to criticize its silk spinning creativity. Yet I did a month’s worth of cardio by grabbing a can of insecticide and a broom in an all out attempt to destroy it. I thought of calling someone for help who was only a 911 phone call or bloodcurdling scream away. Normally, dog sized daddy long legs never bother me. But with other spiders, I snatch a wad of tissues and very carefully smash it, then proceed to torch it, lighting me and most of my immediate surroundings. It is hardly effective when a beast is in the bathroom bum tank swimming for safety and I’m yelling, “Fire in the toilet bowl!”

God’s gardean angels somehow turn into gardean devils. The insecticide and broom clubbing scenario proved useless. The web shriveled and the spider escaped. I came home after work the next day and the web had been re-woven with more extensive exoskeletons of doom. The pest must have been offended by my assassination attempt. I needed to do whatever it took to stay safe from conscientious harvestmen, short of building a Berlin-type wall with barbed wire and topped with atomic warheads. To think that the unaccountable coterie of sinister spiders might be inseminating each other and I could have visitors in my clothes and candy jar. Over my dead body. I was going to kill this thing before cobwebs covered me in my sleep.

I heard that the venom from the Brazilian banana spider causes erections in male victims. Being a female, those spiders would certainly be in the wrong place if it wanted to stiffen a guy. What else can I say about tarantulas. Goliath abdomens, fast legs, only slows down with Prozac or a lethal hammer punch to the cephalathorax. Someone had to bite the dust, and it wasn’t me. Sledgehammering a spider is definitely worth losing fourteen feet of stucco. Journaling my misadventures, I could have concluded these visits by submitting one final question to the intruders. “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive four feet under?”