Like fans at a Brazilian soccer match, my family is loud.
I wake up early on the weekends before they do to avoid the thunder, everyone talking at once, doors slamming, television blaring, kids fighting, general noise pollution.
I peek at the clock; great it’s still early, 8:30 a.m. My daughter and son are sound asleep. Tiptoeing down the stairs, I start my morning ritual — a cup of Joe, a newspaper and thirty minutes of reading in a quiet house.
I prepare coffee, grab a novel and plop on the sofa. All mine. A few blissful moments of silence. I crack open my book and begin to read the first page.
But wait. I tilt my head towards the staircase. You’ve got to be kidding. My husband should be sound asleep, he just returned from a week in Japan. And I am certain the kids will stay in bed until 11 a.m. since there are no activities scheduled for this weekend.
Clomp, clomp, clomp. Downward my husband climbs as quiet as a Clydesdale. He mumbles a weary, “Good morning,” and reaches for the object of his affection, the Cuisinart Brew Central 1200 Coffee Maker.
He shoves aside other appliances. Rattle, rattle, thunder, clatter, boom. Then he removes the coffee grinder from the cabinet, dumps in a cup of beans, pushes the top and whirls away. Like a buzz saw, the racket shatters the silence. After 15 seconds, he pushes the top down again for good measure. I cringe as he turns coffee beans into powder.
Clearing his throat, he says, “Want some?”
“No thanks. I’m fine.” Why are you so noisy!
He grabs the weekend paper, snaps the pages each time he finishes a section. Snap, crinkle, crinkle, hmmmmm. On it goes, page by torturous page, snap, crinkle, crinkle. He sighs to himself and attempts to engage me in one sports story after another. Trying to relax here, mister.
Still on page one of my novel, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog.
Thirty minutes later, like a herd of rhinos at sunrise, my son and daughter stomp down the staircase in search of food. Let the grazing begin.
A fight erupts over cereal.
“Where’s the good cereal? What happened to the O’s?” my son asks.
Oh, please, not the Honey Graham O’s. On a noise-o-meter, it registers at 100 decibels, not recommended without earplugs.
He pours a big bowl, fakes to the left, kicks the empty box into the trashcan and starts to munch. And crunch and crunch and slurp and smack.
My daughter whines, “You ate all the good cereal. The rest is gross.”
She rummages around the pantry, poo-pooing one box after another. Metal pots and pans bounce off the shelf and drop onto the tile floor. Crash, wiz, bang. I cannot stop my hands from shaking.
After 45 minutes, I am only on page ten. Can’t remember a thing. Must reread. Again.
“Mom, phone,” screams my son as he hands me the phone.
Sally from All Star Sports says, “The stuff you ordered is in. Stop by anytime to get it.”
“Thanks. And do you have any blue athletic socks in stock? ” I ask.
“Socks. Do you carry blue socks?”
“Can’t hear you. How many kids do you have? Sounds like you’re running a daycare center.”
Tell me about it.
Within moments, they rush upstairs, yelling and laughing. With quivering hands, I turn back to page one. In the living room, my husband listens to the Wall Street on the iPad, high volume. Reruns of the Warrior’s Game run wildly on the television in the background. Thousands of screaming, chanting fans. I imagine the house vibrating.
My eyelid starts to spasm and head jerks to the right. He notices the tics and asks, “Are you okay? Your eye is bugging out.”
“Trying to read a book. I’ll go in the other room.”
I’ve heard that too much noise can cause increase levels of anxiety, tinnitus and hearing loss. I head for shelter at the nearest safe place.
If you need me, I’ll be reading in the upstairs closet.