The Old Coot speaks softly

The creation of a LOUD TALKER starts young, around the “terrible twos” stage of development. Not loud talkers at that point. I call them SCREAMERS. They screech and scream about everything. Their sounds make us cringe when we’re within earshot of one at a playground, on the beach, in a store and worse of all, on a plane. We (old coots) turn to each other and give a look that says, “Why don’t their parents teach them not to scream?” Or, more likely, “Why don’t they make that kid SHUT UP!”

But, the parents rarely do, because they have a hearing deficiency; they don’t hear their own children’s screams, just those of other kids. It’s like a high frequency dog whistle to them, well out of their hearing range. So, the kid grows up volume-challenged and the world is “blessed” with a LOUD TALKER, a polite term created by Seinfeld on his innovative 1990’s sitcom. The rest of us use a more familiar term, LOUD MOUTH. Everything a loud mouth does is LOUD! Talk, laugh, sing, sneeze, and belch, hick-up. Even their cars are loud, motorcycles even louder. They ride around with their radios blasting so high; it feels like a tsunami has hit you when they pass by. You have to cover your ears to avoid damage to your hearing. The only redeeming value of their loudness is that they always get caught when they try to sneak in and rob a house. 

My aunt and uncle were LOUD TALKERS. Aunt Letty and Uncle Harold. They came to visit once a year, leaving their house in New Haven, Connecticut for two weeks every summer. At least they had an excuse for their loud talking. Uncle Harold was hard of hearing and kept his hearing aid turned down to “save” the battery. He only turned it up when there was something he wanted to hear. He was a loud talker as a result. Aunt Letty became one too, so she could get him to hear her say, “Turn up your darn hearing-aid!” 

It drove my mother nuts; she liked the quiet, but I loved it. It distracted her so much when they were around that she didn’t notice my antics. The best part was when they went to bed for the night. They’d talk about the day before falling asleep. LOUD TALK! It carried well beyond the bedroom wall. “Letty, what did you think of that meatloaf? I thought it was so dry I practically had to gag it down!” She’d try to shush him, tell him he was talking too loud. Of course, we could hear that too, since she had to yell to get him to lower his voice. (Which he never did). “Letty, I thought Madeline’s friend was pretty pudgy for a girl her age. A little snippy too.” It was like listening to the late-night news, a recap and commentary on the day’s events. It’s the thing I love most about LOUD TALKERS. They make it so easy to eavesdrop.

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