Monday, March 5, 2012

Hey, Quiet Over There!

I have never liked loud people. This might stem from when I was a kid and certain of my Dad's relatives would visit. They didn't really speak, they hollered. It usually took a few drinks to loosen them up, but once it started, the yelling never stopped. My sister and I would hide under the table trying to find a safe haven from the pandemonium. Everybody would talk at once, each trying to outshout the other. They weren't usually angry exchanges, just loud. We always dreaded visiting these relatives at their homes because then it was worse. It was like a home game for them, and I guess they felt compelled to be even louder. I remember hiding under the coats piled up on the bed to muffle the noise.

This dislike of loud people even extends to characters I see on television or at the movies too. Jackie Gleason used to play a loudmouth named Charlie Bratton on his variety show. Charlie was a backslapper and a joke teller who made it his business to torment his quiet friend, Clem Finch, played by Art Carney. I loved Gleason and all his characters, but when Bratton came on, I had to leave the room. Same goes for sportsmen. I like the quiet guys like Derek Jeter who let their games speak for them, I root hard against big mouths like Ricky Henderson and Deion Sanders, liking nothing better than when they fail spectacularly. 

Loudmouths are everywhere, showering us with their opinions and shouting everybody else down. We've all been on a crowded elevator when one of these jerks starts spouting off. They all think their remarks are funny, but usually they're just stupid and sometimes hurtful. I think one of my least favorite places to encounter them is on the golf course. The reason for this is that golf is a game for gentlemen, and 99% of the people who play it fit that description. Once in a great while you encounter the oaf who sticks out like a sore thumb. He's usually smoking a smelly cigar (a habit I connect with loudmouths) and his clothes scream: give me your full attention.

I worked in sales for a time, and it was a trial of sorts because salesmen are naturally outgoing and gregarious, and it isn't much of a stretch for them to cross the line to obnoxious. They easily morph into the guy with the lampshade on his head trying to get everybody at the party to play naked Twister. Alcohol is the loudmouth's enabler, and emboldens them to be even more annoying than they are naturally. I try to stay away from people like this because I can no longer suffer them in silence. The older I get, the more they put my teeth on edge, and the more I am likely to say what I think of them. My loving wife usually spots the eruption coming and steers me away from trouble.

I'm sure there have been times in my life when I acted like a jerk. I try not to make a habit of it though. Loud people, on the other hand, seem to work hard at it. Their laughs are usually at someone's expense; their practical jokes tend to be in bad taste; and it's almost as if they have to tear someone down to build themselves up. If I was inclined to analyze, I'd say their boorish behavior is meant to mask massive insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. (Thank you, doctor.) My heroes tend to be people who let their actions speak for them. My mother and my wife are two examples of great strength of character concealed in soft-spoken packages. They are the kind of quiet role models that families can be built around. 


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1 comment:

Joseph Del Broccolo said...

"I'm sure there have been times in my life when I acted like a jerk."
I find THAT hard to believe, even in the few times we've met!