We did it! We vacationed as empty nesters for the first time! We stayed at a beautiful resort, which I’ll always remember because of our noisy minibar. (Minibar Rule #One: If you want me to pay nine dollars for a two-ounce peanut pack, you have to be quiet.) Every four minutes or so, it began a new noise sequence. First, three loud hums, followed by eight quiet hums, then a beep as from an elevator arriving, though the resort is mostly one level, no elevators.
I fixate on things like that until I’m very bothered. Pete heard none of it. He’s easy-going.
I learned my noise sensitivity from my older brother. He chafed at many things I might do, such as swallowing Hawaiian Punch while gulping and humming. He didn’t like it. I took a lot of grief before I learned to swallow my punch in silence, and to this day I drink quietly. Try me. I’m a discreet beverage consumer.
I like to think my loud swallowing was retaliation for the things my brother did to me in return. For example, he pronounced the word “blueberry,” by saying “blueburry,” the “burry” part rhyming with the word “scurry.” The first time he said blueberry this way was an accident, a slip of the tongue. We were discussing pie. It rubbed me the wrong way, he picked up on it, and the word was blueburry forevermore. The bigger my annoyance grew, the longer he persisted.
Blueburry! Blueburry! Blueburry!
I tried shouting. I tried whining. Nothing stopped him. Until, as a last resort, I yelled what any younger sibling finally yells. “I’m telling mom!!!”
These days, “I’m telling mom” might get a kid somewhere, but back in the 70’s it was about as effective as using band-aids to fix broken arms. My mom–like other moms in her day–was not impressed with anyone “telling” her anything, and if you went ahead despite this knowledge, you were probably met with a blank stare (best-case scenario) or a flying hairbrush (worst-case scenario).
If she ever did intervene, it was only to say, “You know he’s just doing that to get a RISE out of you. If you didn’t react, he would stop.” Never did she address my brother and say, for example, “Stop bothering your sister!”
THAT’S something I would have enjoyed hearing even once.