Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

NTKOG #63:The kind of girl who, walking down the street, just bursts into song and sings like nobody’s listening — even when they totally, totally are.

I am: embarrassed for two kinds of people who sing in public: those who think they’re good, and those who know they aren’t but do it anyway. (I’m in the latter camp.)

I am not: the only person who, when walking while listening to the iPod on a deserted street sings along. Right?!

The Scene: The mean, unmusical streets of Brighton, every night this evening. Usually when I walk the four blocks home from my bus stop, I’ll plug in my earbuds and sing along a bit to the music I’m listening to — every once in a while snapping around, just to make sure nobody’s following me within earshot. And of course clamming up the second anyone gets within a half-block radius of me.

This week, though? I didn’t stop singing. Not when people approached me, not when they were a few steps away and grew quizzical and concerned. Not even when they laughed right in my face.

All week I’ve been listening to my country music “he done me wrong” playlist (Hank Williams, Toby Keith, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline — and, yeah, some Dolly and Garth, not even ironically), and paranoid that bystanders on the T could overhear my embarrassing music. But two nights ago, as I walked home around 10pm, I sang along not loudly but with conviction to “Your Cheatin’ Heart” while walkin’ (not after midnight) maybe a quarter of a block behind an uptight i-banker type. And though he was the kind of cute guy I usually blush just to look at, and though he turned around a couple of times and cocked his head at me, I kept on singing.

After the song faded into a moment of silence before “(Play Another) Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” he slowed down to let me catch up with him. When we both paused to wait for the pedestrian walk light another short block later, he turned to me and opened his mouth. I slid out one earbud and he said, “So you’re pretty into your music,” and I told him, “It brings me joy,” and he smiled a little bit and I just put my earbud back in and waited for the light to change.

Of course, not everyone was so cool. Just a few minutes ago, walking home from Sister’s, I was singing along with Loretta Lynn’s “Harper Valley PTA,” trying to get my voice around a few of the slidier twangpeggios. A man was unloading a chest of drawers from the back of his SUV, but when I walked up, he put the chest of drawers down and just looked at me. I chose to believe this is because it’s one of the all-time gorgeous, funny country songs and made eye contact with him, broadening out my twang in a self-mocking showy way. Once I got a few steps past, he said to my retreating back, “You know people can hear you, right?”

I mean, I guess they can, sir, but I’m not convinced that’s such a bad thing.

The Verdict: It’ll be at least a few months before you’re reading about my Nashville debut — or before I sing anywhere other than the karaoke bar or my shower again — but this was liberating. My voice isn’t great, but it’s not terrible, and maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world if someone overhears me using it and enjoying it. I would never dream of intentionally inflicting my singing voice on someone else’s blessed silence (that stuff’s strictly for drunk undergrads. and the couple who lives above me and who occasionally, weirdly, wonderfully sings together while they’re having sex.), but if I accidentally do? It’s not going to trigger the apocalypse.

So this one is a mixed bag. I wouldn’t do it again on purpose or so flagrantly — ’cause, yeah, my heart absolutely froze with terror every time I saw someone coming and forced myself to keep croaking along — but at the very least, during my mostly solo late night rambles, I think I’ll dispense with the panicked look-arounds and keep enjoying this simple pleasure. Once again, for the most part nobody seemed to care when I broke this seemingly inviolable social law, so why not keep breakin’ it? Just like that trampy ho broke Mr. Williams’s non-cheatin’ heart.


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NTKOG Follow-up: The kind of tireless social crusader who, undaunted by her UTTER failure to get loud-music earbud wearers to turn down their friggin’ music, reloads her arsenal with new techniques.

I am: a couple of weeks away from making headlines. “Four high schoolers bludgeoned in brutal seriously-are-your-earbuds-even-plugged-in?! train beating.” Contact me for the exclusive interview.

I am not: exaggerating.

The Methodology: I was prepared, after my last failure, to give up on trying to make the T a soothing environment, but your comments spurred me on, my cherished advocates for social change. We don’t have to listen to other people’s music! We should be allowed to read in peace on the damn train! I AM TAKING BACK THE SOUNDWAVES! So I brainstormed a few variations on the straight-forward ask. My results:

Variation 0 — Charades: Some of you made reference to some sort of miraculous international “turn down your volume” gesture. What is it, guys? I’m seriously drawing a blank. I’ve tried making eye contact with people and pantomiming turning a volume knob counter-clockwise. Nothing. Putting my hands over my ears and shaking my head. Nothing. Pointing to my ears then downward. Apparently I’m the worst at charades! HELP!

Variation 1 — Mock ’til They Stop: The offender was a cute fake blonde carrying an iPod in a screaming pink Roxy cover and wearing little martini glass earrings — cosmos or appletinis, one can only assume. Over the course of the stops, her music blared on in a rapid spiral of shame-pop. Sean Paul “Get Busy” descended to Lady Gaga, which degraded further to “Fergielicious.” Once her earbud-cum-speakers started thunking out “Play That Funky Music White Boy,” look, guys, I was honor-bound to save the car from plumbing any further depths of her musical taste. I waited for a lull in the bass, then pounced:

TKOG: I love that song! It’s great! And you’re so brave!
Funky Music-Loving White Girl: What do you mean?
TKOG: Well, I mean, I think that song’s great, but everyone makes fun of me. I could never have the courage to play it in the T for everyone to hear!
FMLWG: [flips me off and turns the other way, accompanied by the opening strains of “Living La Vida Loca”]

Variation 2 — Monkey See, Monkey Do: I got on the train and sat next to a pretty long-haired hippie chick. Someone near us was playing music too loudly, though I couldn’t see who, and it made me self-conscious. So I took out my earbuds and (sincerely) asked the girl: “Is my music too loud? Can you hear it? I’m sorry to be weird and ask, but I’m always afraid it’s too loud.” She assured me it was fine and smiled back.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed her picking up earbuds from among her ringlets and plug them in her ears. Then she cranked up the volume to maximum, until her music was throbbing in my head, and I finally turned off my own, graciously defeated.

Variation 3 — Killing Them With Kindness: No particular anecdote for this one, but I’ve used it three times so far. It’s more a technique, than anything. Basic conversation:

TKOG: Excuse me, sorry to bother you, but what’s that song you’re listening to?
Music Offender: What?
TKOG: That song that you’re listening to on your iPod. It’s pretty cool.
MO: You can hear that?!
TKOG: Yeah, but don’t worry. I just wanted to know who sings it.
MO: [gives the name of a band that I obviously don’t care about and will never listen to, but in the process either realizes their error and turns their music down, or at the very least, gives me a bemused but not venomous smile]

So far, it’s been my best bet. I’ve gotten two music turn-downs — better than any of the other techniques I’ve tried.

The Verdict: Turns out it is actually possible to persuade people to turn down their music! But it takes much time and effort, and about half the time actually resulted in people turning their volume up. (Which would have happened more, I’m just guessing, were some people not already at peak volume.) Between that and Justice not-so-sweetly suggesting that I belong on the National Registry For National Over-Interactors Who Don’t Deserve Public Transportation, it might be time to give up this quest.

However, looking at my results, I am choosing to believe that the vast majority of too-loud-listeners are not inveterate, hateful nun-punchers, but rather people who are not totally aware of their actions. And if they react with hostility or even do not react to polite, kind entreaties, it is only because they are defensive out of embarrassment!

I know, I know, I’m a gullible fool and they’re all hanging out together right now, listening to a mishmash of death metal and saccharine rap-pop, strangling a sweet little nonagenarian in her own holiday sweater. But I’m trying to have faith.

Anyone have any more fail-proof variations?

(Also, dudes, my apologies for the mega proliferation of T-related stories lately. I swear I’m not becoming the kind of girl who rides the train back and forth all dang day, praying to strike the awkward lode. But tonight I’m going to stalk Lorrie Moore so tomorrow I promise: no trains. Unless I follow her onto one.)

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NTKOG #28: The kind of prim, joyless shusher who isn’t afraid to make your life a living hell until you turn off your music, put your phone on vibrate, and stop clicking your goddamn jaw!!!

I am: a total sound nazi. That much is no exaggeration. Although, in my defense, I blame residual sound-trigger migraines resulting from a very involved medical/dental clusterfuck my sophomore year of college.

I am not: one to actually enforce my vision of a perfect, noiseless utopia on others, sadly.

The Scene: An inbound green line car on the T, a bit past Copley. I am sitting and reading next to a young professional who has a permanent furrow line in her forehead and is intently listening to music on her iPhone, earbuds firmly screwed in above fuchsia dangly kitty earrings.

Now guys, I know many people out there think Apple products are the height of space-age technology, but a disappointing newsflash: Your earbuds are not noise-canceling headphones. Nor are they noise-retaining headphones. They are merely NOISE-TRANSMITTING HEADPHONES that do not fit properly into your dang ears, casting an auditory halo all about your general vicinity, to the chagrin of your non-earbud-wearing seatmates.

I know. It’s a lot to take in all in one paragraph.

So the girl beside me has been shattering her young earbuds for the past half-hour with the screechiest, bassiest, summon-Lord-Satan-from-the-bowels-of-helliest death metal you can imagine. I mean, so loud that the auditory run-off from her headphones alone is about the volume I’d listen to music on my own. It’s so loud her face must be vibrating.

Finally, at the end of a song about, I dunno, gutting an orphan or something, I turn to her with a sweet, apologetic smile, and summon her attention:

TKOG: Would you mind turning down your music? It’s quite loud.
Future Skull-Themed Hearing Aid Owner: What? I’m wearing headphones.
TKOG: Oh, I know, and I’m really sorry, but it’s still pretty loud. I think your music might be louder than you realize.
FSTHAO: If you don’t like it, don’t listen.
TKOG: I really hate to bother you, but it’s actually giving me a headache.
FSTHOA: I’m. Wearing. HEADPHONES. Bitch.

And with that she jammed her earbuds back in and proceeded to turn up the volume (holy shit, it wasn’t at full volume?!), drowning our segment of the car in satanic wails.

At that point, the train lurched to a stop and the lights flickered. A vision flashed through my mind of the train losing power and us stuck underground next to each other for twenty friggin’ minutes. Said vision did not, realistically, end with everybody learning a zany lesson about respecting strangers.

Fortunately, after a two-minute random break-down, the train tooted on its merry way, and my disgruntled former seatmate got off at the next stop, trailed by a few last lingering notes of scorn and discord.

The Verdict: Dang. Turns out there was a good reason I’m not that kind of girl. I always kind of hoped that music-polluters just didn’t realize the annoyances they so liberally sowed! But clearly it’s far, far better to suffer just a smidge in silence rather than put yourself in the line of fire.

Still. Be a good person and think about headphone leakage next time you’re popping in your earbuds in a crowded place! It will, at the very least, save you some embarrassment when other people inevitably mock yo’ taste in music.

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