Reduced Listening

This noise is simple and repetitive. I first noticed it as a child, every time I visited my uncle’s home. He collected thousands of these noise-making apparatuses, and they were scattered throughout his huge, sprawling home. His house was the house of my fantasies, not because of what it physically looked like but because it was the place where my imagination ran the most wild. In that huge labyrinthine place I could run around, pretending I was a spy or some sort of magical being, with that noise always in the background, comforting me. It had a weight and a presence; it made me feel like I was never alone. It was kind of like the heartbeat of the house.

My uncle had to continuously maintain these apparatuses. Everyday he would walk around his house and try to synchronize each apparatus (a futile attempt); it would take him hours. I was always struck by that dedication and compulsion and love. That house was definitely filled with love; the loud holiday dinners with my grandparents and my mom and her nine siblings, their spouses, their children, their children’s children. And still that noise always in the background, comforting me.

As I got older we stopped going to the house, for a number of reasons. But I still always craved that noise – it was necessary for me to keep my peace of mind. I bought an apparatus, just like the ones my uncle had, and kept it in my dorm room. I have a vivid memory of when I was losing my virginity, the person I was having sex with thought the noise was too annoying and took the batteries out and threw the thing out the room. And that was that.

-Keith Lafuente


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