Alfresco. Outside. Out of doors. We Chicagoans love our summers because we get to spend more time outside. And why do we love the great outdoors—our patios and rooftop decks and sidewalk cafés? Is it because we never, ever forget our winters, leaving scrapers in the glove compartment year-round, just in case, and we want to enjoy every minute of the beautiful weather we do have? Is it because we just love to commune with nature? Breath the fresh scent of carbon monoxide emanating from the SUV’s? Yes, yes, yes and yes.
A disturbing trend is developing in our urban outdoorsy-ness, so I’ve noticed. Music. Loud, loud music. Now before you start calling me out on my curmudgeonly-ness, hear me out. Why is it we appreciate being outside so much, at the beach say? Is it because we want to enjoy the sound of gulls and water lapping at the shore—or because we want to hear the group next to us blast Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines at us one more time because Lord knows we just haven’t heard enough of him this summer?
My neighbor across the alley installed a deck on top of his garage. He only had three other decks on his house, so, of course, he needed another one. He’s got a fridge up there and a stereo. And when I’m in my backyard garden attempting to commune with nature—listening to the dragon flies and the mourning doves and the Boeing 777’s going to O’Hare, I get to hear him playing the Grateful Dead. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Grateful Dead, but when I head outside to commune with nature, I want some serenity. Not someone else’s choice of music.
This morning my next door neighbor worked on his car again. I think he’s detailing it. Wonderful! Cleanliness is next to Godliness! But he begins at eight-thirty a.m. and he blasts his music while he cleans—or whatever it is he’s doing inside his car for ninety-minutes every morning, but doesn’t he know that I have my windows open trying to bring some of our beautiful outdoor summer in and that I don’t want to hear his loud (awful, truly awful) music during my writing time?
And before you pigeon hole me as the cranky pants on the front porch with her hair in curlers and the garden hose aimed at children and small dogs, screaming “Get off my lawn!” I want you to know I never wear curlers. If this outdoor music phenom were happening on a Friday or Saturday night, I wouldn’t argue. You get to play music on the weekends. If it were dinnertime on a Tuesday, you know what, that’s fine, too. But all this outside music in the mornings—Please. Just. Stop. I feel as though I’m watching everyone around me forget how to enjoy silence. Peace. Nature. Why are we trying to make our outdoor lives just as jumbled and cluttered and noisy as our indoor lives?
Maybe I am just a curmudgeon, but I really am getting weary of being subjected to everyone else’s music when I head outdoors for some time with “nature,” the rather limited encounters with nature we get to have within the city limits. I know there will be those who disagree with me, but the last thing I would suggest would be to take this argument outside.
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