Thursday, February 18, 2010

LAX CONFIDENTIAL: "I Forget... I Remember... I Forget"

A study of benign hopelessness... in three little acts.

The third in a series.

Act 1: "I Forget..."

Quiet. It’s the sound that swallows every sound that surrounds it. It’s the noise that makes void the voice of every thought.

I don’t remember the last time I drove without the radio on in the car. Okay, that’s a lie... I do remember. It’s that I choose to forget. It was the day my Dad had his last heart attack. I was driving for a living (what else is new), and I remember that on that day when my radio fizzled and cut out for good, I actually prayed that it would work again, just so I wouldn’t have to be alone in an empty car with my own thoughts. Amazingly, mystically, the radio came back to life. An unexplainable resurrection from the dead.

About an hour later, I got the phone call that my Dad had “died” on his front porch, and was being breathed for on a ventilator at Gardena Memorial.

In the years since, driving with noise has become for me a second voice. The sane equivalent of the never ending dialogue of the schizophrenic.

In the aftermath of the miracle of the car radio, I heard a story — an airport story — of two cars, three men, and one question.

The story went like this...

After picking up man number one at the airport, man number two sees a third man in the car next to them — windows down, car radio blasting — the music louder than he could derive enjoyment from. Man number two, being the kind of man who bitches before he thinks, rolled up his window against the noise and complained to the second man,

“What is that guy’s problem? He’s gonna go deaf and take the rest of us
with him. Can’t he hear?!!!”

“He can hear,” the second man said. “What I want to know is, what is it
he hears that he’s trying so hard not to?”

Quiet. I tap the front of the radio, my fingers loud in the unaccustomed silence of my car.

Copyright © 2010 Bill Friday