Christmas Music and the Savage Beast
Whenever I think about that saying “Music has power to soothe the savage beast,” a particular Bugs Bunny cartoon episode pops into my head along with that crazy monkey organ grinder music. As much as I enjoy more current works of animation like South Park, Family Guy, Ren & Stimpy or Beavis & Butthead…the folk in charge of such masterpieces still haven’t been able to improve on the immortal Bugs.
Although it would give me immense pleasure to devote this entire blog to my cartoon hero, we’ll have to save him for another time. This particular piece is about music…and how if it isn’t the right music, at the right time, not only does it not soothe the savage beast, it is capable of making her go completely postal.
For those not into Bugs...the reference starts at 6:10 in this video
I’m not much of a singer. At least this is what I’ve been told by various friends, family and howling dogs. It’s not that I lack the desire. When I’m alone the fact that I’m tone deaf doesn’t bother me in the least. It’s when my head phones are on and I don’t realize just how loudly I’m singing that it causes a problem. It’s just not fair though that I should have to curb my enthusiasm simply because I lack an appreciative audience. So what if it makes his ears bleed…if I have to put up with hairy old men in speedos (not that I’m comparing my beloved to this sort of individual…because he’d never wear one of those banana hammocks) then is it too much to ask for a little leniency if I belt out a show tune once in a while? Besides I know all the words…
Which leads me to the strange episode at the local Michael’s craft store…
Tiny Bubbles (Shiny Baubles)
Recently I took up beading. I’m not sure why…it’s an exercise in pure torture. Perhaps when I was younger, my eyesight a little sharper and my hands a little less caffeinated it might have been a good idea. Now…even with a pair of the special Walgreen’s old lady eyeglasses, the miniscule hole in each tiny bead is barely visible and stabbing at it with an ethereal piece of wire is a hit and miss affair.
But I stray…
This new hobby of mine was my reason for shopping at this store on that particular day. I was looking for shiny baubles (which replaces the organ grinder music with that Don Ho song for those keeping tabs on the mental soundtrack for this piece) and not being able to make quick decisions, a fifteen minute stop has by this point stretched to well over an hour. It’s really a pleasant place to shop though. The employees are all polite, smiling and helpful, most of the patrons are my contemporaries (although none of them seem to be in the beading aisles), and it just always felt…happy…for some mysterious reason.
So there I stood, facing a vast selection of pretty objects…humming to myself, singing the words to a cheerful little ditty (in my head since I’ve become so self-conscious about my own voice)…my right foot tapping to the beat, when all of a sudden the woman to my left bursts forth in song…the same song running through my own head! “Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon!” she belts out rather loudly, totally oblivious to my presence and ability to critique.
I’m stunned…no, I’m appalled…no…I’m wondering why the hell I don’t have the balls to do what she just did. I want to. Perhaps we could harmonize or something…right in the middle of the beading aisle…two strangers enjoying a good ol’ Boy George tune.
I love the license plate placement...
But before I can act on this impulse, another woman comes be-bopping around the corner of the aisle, her shopping cart swerving dangerously because she’s flinging it to and fro like a dance partner. Like my beading buddy, she is completely unaware that she is singing unabashedly to the happy music being poured into our ears from the store’s sound system.
Irrationally, I look around for cameras. The idea that I’ve walked into a surreal crafter’s musical crosses my mind…
The strange thing is that during this episode, not once did either woman make eye contact with me. They were both blissfully wrapped up in their happy shopping experience. The realization made me smile…but I’m still convinced it was the music that caused me to over-spend.
While a person expects to be subliminally influenced by store tunes…the same cannot be said for places where we expect not to have the musical choices of others thrust upon us. Although I could rant about people who pull up alongside at stop lights with their music so loud it makes my car vibrate and cancels out the CD that I was enjoying…or perhaps I could complain about being trapped in a car for hours on end, forced to listen to every hair band song because my husband is in the mood to relive his adolescent years…I won’t. No…I have discovered something even more offensive than those two combined and it was this that stole away my normally cheerful disposition.
With my husband away on business, I was looking forward to a week of peaceful evenings. No television, no hair band music, no constant interruptions that always began with the words, “Honey look at this…” and usually ended with “You never listen to me anymore.” It was just me, the soft tapping of computer keys and the occasional bleat of a squeaky toy dying a slow, painful death by cat…a slice of pure heaven.
Cats Prefer Techno to Christmas Carols
My coffee mug in hand, I settled before the computer for an evening of writing…but for some reason began having difficulty concentrating. There was a constant sound…not loud enough to be clearly identifiable but coming in at a nearly inaudible frequency making it even more annoying…and while I couldn’t be completely sure, it sounded suspiciously like “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” I cocked my head and deployed my super imaginary bionic ear skills (that’s right…boop boop boop boop), attempting to home in on the source. One by one, I picked up each set of headphones and place a cushioned muff to my ear. Nope…not that. Perhaps it was the soft humming emitted by the computer that, merely by coincidence, happened to sound like a traditional Christmas carol? I lean in closer…maybe…could be…no….no that’s not it either. Reaching deeper into the bag of implausible but still possible sources, I open my mouth to make sure that no stray radio waves are transmitting from my dental fillings. To my relief, that is not the case either. I give brief consideration to the cats but their disdainful unblinking stares disabuse me of that silly idea rather quickly. Besides…they prefer show tunes.
Having knocked off several obvious possibilities, it became necessary to actual unplant my ass and do one of those Grover “near-far” type of hunts to determine where the sound was the loudest in my home.. My search brought me right back to the starting point…which meant that…the sound was more than likely coming from outside the house. The dog gazed up at me from her position by the front door with a “Well, duh!” look on her face, patiently waiting for me to acknowledge the fact that she was having a rare Lassie moment.
I opened the door and sure enough…there seemed to be some sort of Christmas block party going on. The only odd thing was…there wasn’t a single soul in sight. Having identified the source of the irritating noise as from “someplace outside” and since it was still only 7:30 p.m., I figured I would just have to grit my teeth for a while and bear it. Surely it would go away soon…
I live in a cul de sac. My house is the second on the left, going clockwise from the bottom…sort of in the eight o’clock position. I really don’t know my neighbors…and to be honest, I really don’t want to ever know my neighbors. It’s enough to be able to smile and wave hello…but I don’t want to join them for any socializing because they scare me. The wives make Wonder Bread look unwholesome…which makes me think of that movie “The Stepford Wives” and then I think…”Poor Bobby”…so I lock my door and make sure my husband doesn’t get any ideas.
To be fair, I think I frighten them just a little too. My first day here, I drove up in my little convertible roadster, the stereo blasting a nasty Nine Inch Nails song, wearing a trashy white tank top and shorts...and when I waved a big howdy…only the husbands bothered to return it. Needless to say the invites to Tupperware parties are not rolling in…
But back to the Christmas music….it was still going. I couldn’t quite hear, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” followed by “White Christmas”…and it irked me that my wonderful evening was being undermined by the neighbor at the eleven o’clock position, Fat Dennis.
Normally, I wouldn’t pick on a person simply because of his weight…that would be cruel. However, when a particular person feels compelled to wear boxer shorts and boxer shorts only while cavorting on his front lawn before I’ve even had my first cup of coffee (and thankfully no breakfast), when that person is on the board of the HoA (the housing authority) and has written us up for such stunning violations as a weed in our front yard or a rusty pipe on the side of our house…well then fat is not the worst adjective I could use.
Now it is the opinion of this author that upon this particular occasion, Fat Dennis had over-stepped his boundaries as an omnipotent HoA member. Although some home decorating in the area can threaten to cause retinal scarring, I turn a blind eye (literally) to it and remind myself that it is after all Christmas, or Halloween, or whatever Hallmark moment has struck suburbia…I don’t want to be a party pooper after all. Fat Dennis, however, has taken home decorating to new and lofty heights! In addition to the blinking lights, the giant inflatable Santa and several reindeer…the self-important slob has mounted two large white speakers…one on each side of his garage door, facing the street.
As my blood pressure slowly rises, I attempt to rationalize this amazing act of assumption. I even try to excuse his rude behavior. Last year this time, the Fat Dennis family was out of home due to a fire. I’m sure that they are just so happy to be back in their house that they feel compelled to spread their joy throughout the entire neighborhood. Screw that. Actually, why was I surprised that a man who could burn down his own home by falling asleep with a lit cigarette would think that slapping a couple speakers onto the exterior walls and then playing Christmas carols like some demented DJ, was a good idea? Silly me.
By 9:30 PM, I’d run out of seasonal good will and I was working up a good froth as to how I was going to handle this audacious auditory assault (ha…worked in a bit of alliteration in this piece too!) “Joy to the World” was trumpeting loudly as I began my march…barefoot and clad only in my favorite black and red flannel pajamas done in a tasteful coffee mug motif…to Fat Dennis’ door. Full of self-righteous indignation I poked the doorbell and waited, arms folded…hoping the song didn’t end before he answered the door so I could pretend to have to yell over the noise…
Through the side panel window I could see Mrs. Fat Dennis clutching the front of her robe together, one overwrought fist holding the gathered material to her bosom. The dog barked…and she just stood there. I guess even in flannel pajamas I was a rather threatening apparition. I poked the buzzer again…a strong indication that like it or not…I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Sadly, the final bold and triumphant note of the carol was slowly dissipating on the cold night air when Fat Dennis himself…wearing his favorite boxers, of course…answered the door.
“Yes,” he inquired politely.
Tight-lipped…mostly because I’d marched off in such a heated state that I’d forgotten to put my upper plate in…I replied, “I can hear it in my house. Turn it off…now” and then after a moment’s hesitation I added, “please.”
To my horror, the man actually whined. “But…it turns itself off at ten o’clock automatically,” he mewled.
I wasn’t sure how to respond to that, quite honestly. I was dumbfounded…shocked…and thought to myself…”that actually sounds sane to him.” Caught without a scathing retort, I had to resort to the only other means of intimidation in my possession. I gave him the “Mommy Glare.” Yes…all you women are nodding your head and laughing, while the men are experiencing a mild tremor of fear. There is no look as powerful as this one…but I believed this situation called for an extreme response.
Instantly, the tubby whiner went from wheedling to a hostile pout as if I’d just ruined all his fun. “Okay…” he said in a manner disturbingly similar to a recalcitrant five year old. With my point made, I spun around on my heel and marched home in the same manner as when I had arrived. The music cut off abruptly after taking five steps…which made me very happy.
So happy in fact…that I hummed “Silent Night” all the way home.
Author’s Note: It has now been four days since the incident and I am happy to inform my reader that Fat Dennis has seen the error of his ways and has since lowered his Christmas music to such a level as to remain completely inaudible…even when engaging my bionic ear.
Peace on Earth = Good Will Toward Men
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