As I sit here, my living room wall is pulsating.
I can almost see it moving, like in some hazy, blurry-filtered acid-trip sequence in Taking Woodstock. Or any other film that would depict an acid sequence.
But, see… the thing is… I’m not tripping. At all. Instead, my next-door neighbor is merely listening to his stereo again.
Now, don’t get me wrong… I’ve always like my music loud.
Just ask my parents.
It all started in 1980. I got my first radio—a transistor—for my ninth birthday. From that moment on, the thing literally became an extension of my arm—I took it everywhere with me, and, when I was in my room, it was always on. Plus, because our house was a split level, with my room downstairs, away from everyone else’s rooms and the main living space, I could get away with playing it as loud as I wanted.
And I wanted.
I really, really wanted.
This was, of course, much to the extreme chagrin of my parents and grandparents, who repeatedly insisted that I was going to, to paraphrase A Christmas Story, “shoot my [eardrum] out.”
Typically, though, because they were upstairs and I was down, it wasn’t a problem. But when there was cross-over… when they had to come downstairs, either to get something, to do laundry, or to call me to dinner because I couldn’t hear them from upstairs over my Total Rocking Out, the scene would infallibly play out as follows:
1. The family member opens my bedroom door.
2. I am startled, because I didn’t know he or she was downstairs.
3. I am embarrassed, because he or she inevitably caught me dancing around the room.
4. The family member turns down my radio.
5. The family member yells that I am going to damage my hearing… without noticing the irony of such action.
6. The family member leaves.
7. I turn the radio back up.
Time after time, day after day, month after month, year after year, this scenario replayed itself like a residual haunting.
Later, when it came time to replace my transistor radio with the requisite 1980s “boombox,” my parents were initially hesitant due to their fear that I would “blast them out of house and home.”
However, being the responsible honor student music fan that I was, I explained to them that I merely wanted better sound quality and a built-in cassette tape player, and I didn’t need to have the biggest “boombox” on the block.
And all of that was completely true.
But, as it turned out, my quest for better sound quality inevitably led me to having the biggest “boombox” on the block. And while I’d like to say that I was just incredibly clever and had planned it that way all along, it just wasn’t the case.
Even though I had this huge “boombox,” though, it’s not that I played it at full volume—I limited myself to a point over which the volume lever would never go, and, for the most part, I stuck to it.
I did this because I respected my parents, I knew they were right about my hearing, I didn’t want them to take my “boombox” away, and, mostly… especially as I got older, because I didn’t want to be a pain in the ass to others. The latter being an aspiration that I’m discovering is, sadly, not shared by a sizeable chunk of the population.
Which, of course, brings us back to my neighbor.
As I sit here, the wall continues to pulse and pound. And I’m paying way too much to have to watch and listen to it.
From what I’ve been able to gauge, his tastes run mostly to REM and Belgian techno music, which sort of makes living next to him remind me of when I lived in France.
The one or two times I’ve seen him, I’ve noticed that he speaks French, so maybe that words towards my France recollection, I don’t know… but, most importantly, I’ve also noticed that he’s way too old to be acting like this.
Dude… Seriously. When you live in such close proximity to other people, have a little respect.
And turn it down.
‘Cuz, you know… if I can do it, I’m pretty certain that anyone can.