If it’s too loud…

14 Apr

My early years were shaped by many sounds: the piano playing, the lawn being mowed (by someone else), baseball on the TV, heavy metal music pounding through the walls of my oldest brother Matt’s room. Matt was the family’s only real aficionado of ’80s hair bands, and was a devotee of such musical legends as Ratt, Dokken, and Tesla. To his credit, he has gone on to a distinguished young scholarly career, despite my mother’s insistence that all that racket would “fry your brains.” I don’t know if Matt ever responded with the ever-popular “If it’s too loud, you’re too old” phrase, but I’m sure it crossed his mind.

Finn won’t grow up with much Ratt or Dokken (although he does have Metallica and Tool lullabies compliments of Grandpa Javy). Instead, he gets to contend with the rattling sounds of Cairo. From my office window here in the heart of the downtown area, I can hear the sweet strains of screaming and honking just off Tahrir Square, the center of the city where the decibel level is only slightly lower than a jackhammer. I especially enjoy teaching classes when I have to pause for several moments because my students can’t hear me over the din outside the door.

To show I’m not exaggerating about the jackhammer thing, I recommend this article: “A City Where You Can’t Hear Yourself Scream,” in today’s New York Times.

If it’s too loud, you’re too old…or maybe you’re in Cairo.

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6 Responses to “If it’s too loud…”

  1. Dre April 14, 2008 at 4:26 pm #

    Ah, memories…………. Matt actually used that very phrase on me this weekend as I pulled into his driveway and in a rare lapse of musical judgment, had an ABBA CD blaring.

  2. Kay April 14, 2008 at 5:00 pm #

    All parents worry about their teenagers hearing. I remember I could actually feel Benji’s car turn the corner because the bass was turned up so loud. I was sure he would be deaf by the time he was 18. Seven years later he’s doing just fine!

  3. mom April 14, 2008 at 8:01 pm #

    Patrick, I remember the first morning after returning from Cairo. I stepped out the door to get the newspaper and had the oddest feeling that something was missing or not quite right. I started to laugh when I realized the oddness was the quietness of the morning. No honking horns, no screaming taxi drivers, no screeching car brakes, no chanting prayers. Silence can indeed be golden.

  4. Melissa April 14, 2008 at 8:34 pm #

    Can I just say amen to the taxi driver quoted in the Times article who says “there is no such thing as logic in this country.” That, my friends, is Egypt in ten words or less.

  5. Uncle Matt April 18, 2008 at 6:20 pm #

    Well, I am outraged. How could you have left Van Halen off the list?!! But come to think of it, just think what intellectual heights I would have scaled by now if I had not at least parboiled my brains.

    (Coincidentally, I write this while listening to the 39-year-old’s equivalent, Steve Reich’s “Drumming.” The newest objector to my music thinks that this piece, along with Radiohead, will fry everyone else in the family’s brains. She seems less concerned with my brains for some reason.)

  6. jeff carrier April 28, 2008 at 4:28 pm #

    This is the first signature on a petition for a new post, anyone else want to sign?

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