Leave music out of it for a moment. What’s your favorite sound?
Like most things, it’s easier to identify the worst sounds we encounter: Jackhammers, screams, the drill at the dentist’s office . . . My vote goes to the tines of a fork on the surface of a plate. Aiyeee!
Selecting the best requires a few moments of serene contemplation. We’ve done that for you, and come up with the following list.
An Almost Top Ten List of the Best Sounds in the World . . .
5. “I’m letting you off with a warning this time.” A cop or trooper jockeys into traffic behind you, hits the lights, does the slow walk-up, and runs your license, registration, and insurance. All the while, you’re muttering nasty things inside your head. You guess there weren’t enough murderers or burglars or drug dealers to occupy someone’s precious time today. And you check the calendar to see how close you are to the end of the month, otherwise known as Quota Time. You’re going to be in a hideous mood for the rest of the day, and the other people in your life will know it. Here he comes, another slow walk-up right out of central casting. Only this time he throws a switch. “I’m letting you off with a warning this time.” And your day is suddenly brighter than any you can remember.
4. Steaks being thrown onto a hot, well-oiled grill. With apologies to our vegan readers, this sound is sublime. You have to remember to brush oil onto the grates, and make sure you let the temperature climb above 400F, so you get a decent sear on the meat. And it’s better to have an audience, so you can begin by saying, “Listen to this…” Don’t be talking on the cell phone, or you’ll miss the moment, which is at its absolute apex when the second steak hits the grill and adds its hiss to the first one’s early sizzle.
God, I love summer.
3. Baseball practice in early spring. You’ve been away from them all winter, but now the sounds are coming back, along with the grass and the sun. The thwock of balls hitting the pockets of gloves, the distinctly sharper sound of them jumping off bats, relaxed insults flying back and forth. The sounds of a good high school or college team getting back to work evoke the coming of spring, and that always brings a surge of hope.
2. The sound of your spouse or partner breathing as he or she sleeps. Especially if you’ve had a crappy day. I realize this one comes with its own jackhammer sounds sometimes. Try to look past that. Think of the snoring as tangible evidence that you’re not alone in this world. (A lot of people are, you know.) If your life partner doesn’t snore, spoon up close behind and just listen. It’s nice to be reminded that another human being thinks highly enough of you to trust you with that sound.
1. A laughing baby. This needs to be triggered by something silly. (She’s an infant, for God’s sake. She’s not gonna get Bill Maher.) A game of “Boo” will do just fine. This has the added benefit of taking you out of yourself, because it’s hard to remain self-absorbed when you’re making a funny face and saying, “Boo!” And the baby starts laughing, a little tentatively at first, but unabashedly by boo number three. By the fifth boo, the child’s entire body spasms with every laugh, and you can’t help but become a baby yourself and laugh harder, and better, than you’ve laughed in a long time. And you wish your life partner could be there with you.
A laughing baby paves over a lot of stupid bickering.
By Michael Gavaghen