Like so many other people, there are sounds that set my nerves on edge. I’d say there are such noises for most, if not all, people (I defy you to find me one person who enjoys the sound of nails on a blackboard).
For me, whistling and continuous humming drive me bat shit crazy. Also, the squeak of rubber soles/sneakers on the train goes through my head like a spike.However, and oddly, there are noises that I know drive other people crazy, but I find soothing. One of those is the sound of packing tape being ripped off a roll. That violent, unceremonious ripping sound probably tears through others like a bolt of pain. But, for some reason I can’t explain, I enjoy that sound. There’s something about listening to someone pull piece after piece of tape as they put together a package that puts me in a bit of trance.A visual correlation is watching women put on makeup during their morning commute on the train. I get caught up watching women line their lips, color their cheeks, and brush their lashes, and I’m just riveted. It’s not a sexual thing, either. Maybe it’s the ritualistic aspect of it. Rituals, in general, compel me. I’m fascinated with the rituals of the Catholic Church, even though I haven’t been religious in years, and of other religions as well. I think about the history of those rituals—how did they start? By whom? Why? Were there protests against them? Or did people just fall in line behind them?
What does any of this have to packing tape being ripped from a roll? For that matter, why am I sharing this with you? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to either one of these questions. But I do want to say that this sort of thing proves that for all the billions of people on the planet, we all have very different personalities and quirks. As the saying goes, one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure.
And it is so with literature. All writers and readers have their own particular quirks and idiosyncrasies, things that attract and repel us. What bothers me, though, is that the loudest noises are the ones that gets the most attention. But that’s just a law of nature. A fact of life. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Right?Not much to do about it, except to try and get people to look at the wheels that maybe aren’t squeaking as loudly but need attention anyway. Take a look around and see what treasures lie in wait for you to find them. Grease some other wheels.
In the meantime, I’m trying to take comfort from whatever sources I can. I usually enjoy peace and quiet, but sometimes a weird noise can be comforting in its own loud, rhythmic way.
But, please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t continuously snap your gum with every single chew you make. That is not a comfort to anyone.