Southern Tier Comedy Shop
If I think it’s too loud, am I too old?
By Jim Pfiffer
IllustratED by Filomena Jack
I’m sitting at a peaceful outdoor café table on Market Street in Corning sipping a latte, with the warm sun on my back and a thick New York Times in my hands. The folks at the nearby tables are doing mostly the same.
Life is good.
Then it happens.
A dude in a car at a nearby red light revs his engine several times, apparently, to show us that he has mastered the skill of repeatedly pressing on a gas pedal.
The car’s exhaust system is so loud you can actually see sound waves pulsating from it, like in cartoons. The noise sets my paper ablaze and splashes coffee all over the table. (I’m exaggerating. The paper didn’t burst into flames, but it was smoldering, a little).
Just before he zooms away, the dude glances over and smiles in smug satisfaction at drawing attention from me and the other petrified folks who are wiping up their spilled coffee and extinguishing their newspapers.
The light turns green, and Speed Racer floors it, roars away, peeling rubber and wasting gas until he stops at the next red light a block away and repeats his “Hey everyone. Look at me. I need attention” performance.
That might upset some people, but not me. I take it in stride and calmly think, “What an asshole. No one gives a f—k about your stupid-ass loud exhaust, just like no one gives a f---k about you, dipshit.”
See, I told you it doesn’t upset me.
Why do some people love mufflers, engines and car stereos that are so loud they can cause sterility?
Car sound systems are so deafening that I often hear and feel the approaching “BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!” of the car’s 200-plus woofers before I see the car. When I do spot the offending vehicle, its doors, roof and hood are pulsating in sync with the BOOMS!
It was so loud it turned on my “check engine” light.
I live near “The Point” in West Elmira where West Church and West Water streets merge. Motorcyclists use a long straightaway on Water Street to pop wheelies, exceed 50 mph and make so much noise I can hear it from inside my home some 200 yards away. I’m talking about the “go-fast” pocket-rocket cycles whose high-pitched engines whine and buzz so loud I can still hear the bike after its rider gets home and parks his cycle in the garage.
You are probably thinking “Boy, Jim sure doesn’t like noise.”
Illustrated by Filomena Jack.
Wrong. I’m more concerned by the fact that loud music and fast cars upset me. That means I’ve officially become one of those grouchy old men who is perturbed by a cacophony of caterwauling from young whippersnappers.
How can that be? How did this happen?
I grew up creating and enjoying maximum decibels blaring from six-foot-tall stereo speakers, quadra sonic car stereos and Cherry Bomb mufflers that could shake cherries from the cherry trees.
My neighbors listened to my good music, whether they liked it or not. In fact, they liked it so much that they often invited the cops to come hear it.
At concerts, I stood in front of skyscraper-size speakers that were so loud they blew out the vegetable matter in my pipe and the flame on my BIC lighter.
As a rock ‘n’ roll-loving teen, my stereo’s volume was turned up to 7.5 on the Richter Scale. The music on my Sony Walkman headphones was loud enough to make my hair stand on end and sway to the music.
One time, while wearing headphones blasting loud tunes, I vacuumed the house for 20 minutes before I realized the vacuum wasn’t turned on.
During my louder-the-better much younger days, I punished my eardrums with music that was louder than a Space Shuttle launch. That’s why today, when people ask me “Did listening to all that loud music, damage your hearing?” I reply, “Would you please repeat that?”
I fondly recall a summer Saturday teenage afternoon, cruising downtown Elmira in a friend’s borrowed Chevy, with the windows down while singing along with “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home),” by Grand Funk Railroad, blaring from an eight-track tape deck.
I sat at a red light, music blaring and my head bobbing as I sang along.
“Everybody, listen to me
And return me, my ship
I'm your captain, I'm your captain
Although I'm feeling mighty sick.”
Now, I’m feeling mighty sick because I’ve become a “turn that damn music down or I’m calling the cops” old fogey.
Aging is cramping my once freedom-loving live and let live values.
The next thing you know, I’ll be making fun of the younger generations’ hair, clothes and music. Wait. I already do that.
Old age home, here I come.
And it better not play any loud elevator music.
About this Feature
To contact and learn more about Filomena Jack and to see her artwork go to www.FilomenaJackStudio.com.