Sound memory

Saturday, 27 October 2012

I’m going to be trying to collect a lot of my short stories/memories about sound into a longer piece of writing. This is one of the stories that might make it in, it just happened today:

I was at the farmer’s market at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. I had to pee, but the only restrooms are in the buildings which are a ways away from the place where the farmer’s market was held, so I drove over there. The buildings at the fairgrounds are used for various gatherings, auctions and trade shows and so forth, something different all the time, so I wasn’t surprised to see some event happening as I walked in the doors. What I found inside was that the large gymnasium-like room was full of hundreds of elderly people, but the room was hushed, almost completely silent. The people were seated at small tables distributed regularly throughout the large space, and I noticed that they were all playing some sort of card game that required some accoutrements I didn’t recognize. I walked across the space to the restrooms, did my business and came back out, the only sounds I heard was the occasional slight shuffle of a chair or a cough. People were milling up to a table and getting drinks from bottles of Coke and eating chips and dip, but no one was speaking or making any of the usual sounds people do when they’re gathered together. Near the door, I noticed a young woman seated by herself at a small table, apparently engaged in some function of the game, but not busy at the moment. I asked her “What game is it being played here?” She said “It’s bridge,” and told me a thing or two about the game’s workings. I mentioned that it was striking how quiet it is in the room given the number of people. She told me that she performs a function in the game, but that it’s only every now and again, and that she knows when it is time for her to stand up and be ready to act by listening for a change in the way the room sounds. “It’s almost like you ‘feel’ when you are needed” she said.

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