Saturday, January 22, 2011

You don't deserve this

It's 6:15 in the evening. Two and a half hours more and you should already be up to prepare for work. And yet you're still awake.

The neighbors are partying and there's videoke involved. No, it's not really partying; they just happen to have a videoke machine at their disposal—if they rent it or it's actually theirs you have no idea—and once in a while they like to give it a whirl. By once in a while you mean weekly. By give it a whirl you mean, with no hint of bashfulness or even self-respect, produce series of sounds that remotely resemble Bon Jovi classics, the usual "diva" songs, and local pieces about getting drunk and getting laid.

Your bedroom is just one stone fence away from the source of the noise. You think that like cars being insured, videoke machines should be registered with the names of all who are to use it. Those whose names have been registered must go through an audition with the same strictness that Simon Cowell would uphold. All other users shall be judged according to the scores provided by the machine. It shouldn't suffice anymore that one would get laughed at or teased. A strong electric shock from the mic or the like if it's anything less than 80.

One of your window shutters is smashed so that even with all of them closed you can hear the voice of a girl desperately trying to sing Daniel Bedingfield's "If You're Not The One." And after that, Yeng Constantino's "Salamat." Then Kelly Clarkson's "Because Of You." Your window shutter is smashed because last Christmas Eve you pulled at it so hard in an attempt to make the same girl's unmelodious voice as muted as possible. The irony. You slept late then, and also woke up late. Will it be the same tonight?

You think to yourself, Thank goodness I've got earphones. With earbuds too so that all noise will be shut out. So you set your music player on shuffle and since you're not yet that sleepy, you switch on your lamp, grab a book and read a few lines.

Jo Larouche is just about to embark on a journey down the subway tunnel with his fellow Order of Odd-Fish squire Ian and a boy he just met named Nick. Is Jo merely making Ian jealous by coming with a stranger? And can this boy Nick be trusted? Even with your music player's volume at its lowest, however, you can't concentrate on the story. You return the book to your bedside table, turn off your lamp and close your eyes.

Half a dozen songs later, you're still awake. During the short pause between each song, you can still hear the muted cacophony outside your house. If you push your earbuds in any deeper you'd already hit your eardrums. So you raise your music player's volume a couple of notches.

Your favorite band comes on and you try to enjoy their music. But to no avail because between verses when the harmony is just a tad softer you still hear that poor girl's desperate attempts at reaching the high notes of "Salamat." You think to yourself there are other less embarrassing ways of letting the entire neighborhood know what her favorite song is. Most other girls her age have taken to giving blow-by-blow accounts of their lives on Facebook and Twitter. Sure, it can get annoying when one of them's on your news feed or dashboard but at least it's not a menace to your hearing.

You hear your dogs bark madly at a car outside your gate. Your parents and your niece have returned from the mall. It's 7:15, if you're interpreting the hands of your wall clock correctly in the darkness. If you sleep now you'd end up being late for work again.

Sighing, you get up and notice the noise from outside seems louder now even with your music player's volume raised. Are they seriously flaunting what they think passes for singing? Sure, television and the stage are for the celebrity, while the videoke machine is for the wannabe, but that's why there are soundproof videoke rooms at malls and the shower at home. You can only think that some people simply are unaware of the condition they have that is foolishness. It's like kleptomania. Or multiple personality disorder. Or halitosis. And you suddenly understand why other people are compelled to kill people for the most ridiculous of reasons. Someone murdered his wife because he saw her smile from afar at her gorgeous ex-boyfriend. Psh, you'd literally kill—or commit arson (the recipe for homemade grenades can easily be googled)—just to get some sleep.

Three grenades, er, hours later, your surroundings are peaceful, save for the occasional barking of dogs at nothing in particular. It's time to leave for work, but you stay at home instead because you're no longer that resolved to return to work despite recovering from sickness. You spend some hours playing computer games with your niece and sleep the soonest chance you get. Your neighbors aren't likely to lay off the wailing just because it's a Sunday.

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