His voice was exceedingly obnoxious.
“We’ll be seeking damages for all compensable losses suffered, of course. This Judge is a real prick, though.”
The older man sitting behind Peter Bellier, who had a dysphonic disposition to begin with, possessed one of those show-offy voices that “projected” and grated on the nerves.
Bellier shifted and squirmed and ultimately moved to the other side of the table to get further away from the man’s voice. A lawyer, no doubt. Clearly an individual who loved to hear his own voice, had an inflated ego and found enjoyment in inflicting his opinion, and booming oration on others.
Peter reached in his pocket threw down the money to pay the bill and quickly left the restaurant. He had heard enough.
Outside on the street was not much better, honking cars and whistling doormen, ambulance sirens, jack-hammers and construction.
That was New York City for you.
Peter slipped on his Bose headphones and surrendered to the soothing voice of self-help guru Tony Robbins encouraging Bellier to face his fears and take risks.
“Only YOU control your destiny… by changing one small habit each day…tackling one small fear, YOU are creating the building blocks for much greater success…”
Tony Robbins was great but nobody had a more soothing voice than good old Bob Ross with the freaky Afro from The Joy of Painting. Peter could watch re-runs of that TV show for hours even though he couldn’t paint a lick or had no interest in painting whatsoever.
“We don’t make mistakes here, just happy little accidents, let’s just go crazy and put a happy little tree right here, why not?…That’s it…just a bit of titanium white and away we go.”
Peter hated the noise made by kids popping balloons at birthday parties, the sound of his ex-girlfriend running water in the sink, barking dogs in the neighborhood or idiots who whistle loudly at sporting events or screamed suddenly to a friend while walking by Peter.
Ironically, Peter’s ex-girlfriend Carlotta Shabroni was also picky about certain noises.
“Peter, do you have to bang on the keyboard like that?”
“Can you close the door while you’re peeing?”
“I can hear your fork click on your teeth…it’s really irksome.”
As it turned out, Carlotta and Peter didn’t have a lot else in common except full agreement when she called it quits and moved back to Brooklyn. The sound of the door slamming angrily behind her was actually sweet music to Peter’s ears.
Peter continually felt as though his personal space was being invaded …by other people’s noises.
Even when Bellier was a passenger in his friend Manfred Gogol’s luxury SUV, he was incredibly uncomfortable anytime Manfred, a well-known artist, forced him to listen to sappy R&B songs from the 70’s on his CD player. Peter also constantly had to remind Manfred not to yell into the phone. In fact, the only person Peter knew who was fussier than himself about noise was their mutual friend, the famed Arts critic, Franz Mugler.
Peter was rarely without his trusty headphones.
On those rare occasions, he did not have them he was bombarded by city-noises and bits and pieces of conversations that Manhattanites would be having as they walked down the street while talking with friends or on their smart phones.
“She needs to get rid of that guy already, all he does is sit around the apartment and look at YouPorn, or watch Game of Thrones on Netflix …what a total putz!”
Peter often played a game where he tried to deduce facts about New Yorkers based upon the nature of their conversations and the clothing they were wearing.
This game was never as much fun as the one he would play when he saw a beautiful woman on the street or a bus or a cafe. How would she look naked? What would it feel like to kiss her? Touch her? What does her voice sound like? Could she ever fall in love with me? Peter wondered all these things. Would two puzzle pieces suddenly fit like magic?
Teenagers said “like” and cursed pretty much every other word it seemed to Peter.
Old folks talked a lot about family and medical ailments.
Diner workers conversed in Spanish, Russian and Greek most of the time.
Tourists seemed to speak a lot of Japanese, Italian, German and Dutch.
Middle-aged moms looked stressed out and spoke fast. Upper East Side “know it all” moms who worked as presidents of the parents association spoke with clenched jaws and prattled on about mundane matters with great seriousness and self-importance.
Peter actually worked in “Communications & Sales.” He noticed that these days, folks spent a lot of time on their iPhones texting and sending emojis. A lot less talking, a lot more texting. Way more efficient. Great way to keep everybody at arm’s length. All you really needed to keep the world at bay was sunglasses and ear buds to control the lines of communication and help block out extraneous noise. Technology works, he posited.
“I’m sorry to pull you away from your Iphone…did you order a tall iced latte?”
Her voice was melodic, her face, highlighted by mysterious amethyst eyes and eyeliner, framed by jet-black hair, was delicate and pale with bow-shaped lips set off by fire-engine red lipstick.
“I’m sooo sorry…I was paying attention to my devil’s intercom…when I really should have been paying attention to you.”
“Well then, Peter, now that I have your full attention and you have your beverage–what are we going to do?,” replied Tara playfully.
“Well, I don’t have to ask your name now– thanks to your name-tag, but I guess I should ask if you would ever like to grab a coffee or some other sort of beverage somewhere quiet with an almost total stranger.”
As Tara’s face reddened slightly, her throaty laugh conveyed approval with Peter’s bold suggestion.
“Actually, one of my girlfriends told me about this really rad techno lounge in the East Village that I’ve been wanting to check out…how does that sound?” Tara inquired cheerfully with an arched eyebrow for added dramatic effect.
“Sounds…amazing, Tara,” replied Peter who suddenly could hear his own breath and sense a vibration of excitement, arousal and infatuation pulsing throughout his body.
Image: – Author’s own art work