Sunday, April 18, 2010

That Urban Hum

Have you noticed how hard it is to escape that urban hum? I, for one, don't mind it, but those looking for a kind of perfect, unsullied stillness, will find it difficult to achieve peace and harmony in big cities. For that hum is always there. Occasionally, if you do locate a really quiet place, like, say, the middle of Central Park, you may think you have found it. But if you just take a moment to listen for the hum of traffic and construction noise and general hustle and bustle, you will recognize it, and it just might drive you crazy.

That's what happened to Larry. He had grown up in Iowa around some pretty good sized cities, like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, but he had never encountered anything like New York. In fact, he loved it at first, couldn't get enough of it really. But then his obsession with the urban hum got to him. After a while, all he thought about was finding a way to get away from that hum once and for all. But no matter where he went, that hum seemed to follow him. Oh, sure, occasionally, he could duck into a movie theater or a museum and escape the hum for a short while, but as soon as he stepped outside he would be confronted with that urban hum once again and that sense of never being able to escape it nearly drove him mad.

One day Larry tried to take the commuter train toward Pennsylvania where he thought he would finally be free of the hum. But just minutes before he boarded the train, a strike was called and all the trains were cancelled. He returned to Manhattan utterly obsessed with the hum. Desperate for relief, Larry submitted to a rare operation in which the equivalent of cotton was permanently placed in his ears so that he would no longer be able to hear most noise. The hum was still there, but Larry couldn't hear it any longer. He remains at peace living in Washington Heights and occasionally even visiting Midtown when he gets the itch for culture. He now enjoys the best of both worlds, living in one of the world's great cities but no longer haunted by that urban hum.

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