November 29, 2021
By Arthur H. Gunther III
It was cacophony, you see.
C-A-C-O-P-H-O-N-Y. Great noise, all about, everywhere. A person could not think. A person could not speak. Every kid in town had a head full of noise.
Televisions had no on and off switches and blared MTV, cartoon language and commercials 24 hours a day. Everyone’s laptop – and everyone had a laptop – played music and video games and would not turn off.
Mothers, even quiet ones, raised their voices. Dads were yelling at Little League umpires. Sisters were taunting brothers. Brothers were bouncing baseballs off walls.
Teachers scratched chalk to a high and long pitch on the blackboards. Principals shouted at parents over the telephone. Parents answered back over their cell phones. Policemen used their whistles constantly. Firefighters could not shut their sirens.
Politicians talked without stopping, though no one noticed. Trash collectors banged cans all day long. Restaurants banged pots. Drummers banged drums.
So, you see, it was cacophony, the Great Noise, everywhere. It was a world crisis.
That would not do for Hiram, Esmerelda and Jules, buddies in and out of school, with Hiram the quiet, introspective one; Esmerelda the smart, witty problem solver; and Jules the fellow with the engineer’s mind.
For days now, in this world of noise, the three had to signal each other to be noticed, to communicate. Even when they found an isolated place to sit and talk, they had to shout. Esmerlda was not an easy shouter; Hiram needed quiet more than most; Jules found loudness interfered with his thinking.
The three friends could not take it anymore, so they went to the school’s boiler room where the hiss of steam and the rush of gas firing the furnace would at least drown out the cacophony that was growing and growing in their school, in their town, in their state, in their nation, in the world.
“What are we to do?” asked Hiram. “Well,” said Esmerelda, “Let’s think this out. It seems we are the only people in this school, in this town, in this state, in this nation, in this world to be aware of the noise. It is up to us to restore the quiet. We need a solution.” “Solution?” Jules chimed in. “Solutions are what engineers work on.” Hiram added, “Hmm, I must ponder this within, deeply.”
The three buddies then went outside and sat down in the middle of a large field near the school, Hiram to think soulfully, Jules to think like an engineer and Esmerelda to think practical.
Hiram, who was first cousin to anything quiet, plugged his ears with cotton and put on a football helmet so he could concentrate on finding a cacophony-free zone. Jules began drawing a structure where the quiet could begin. Esmerelda told both of them, “I’m going to take a snooze over there under that pretty tree and wait for you two to wake me up with ideas.”
Hiram thought and thought and became so tired that he also went over to sit under Esmerelda’s tree and rest. Jules drew and drew and soon was awfully tired too, and he joined his buddies. Pretty soon, Hiram, Esmerelda and Jules had their backs against the tree trunk and were asleep, snoring loudly.
When one made a big sound after a deep breath, another exhaled in a different pitch and the third made another sound. This unique combination of snoring produced such a special frequency that a big — hugely big — sound wave began to grow and grow. The wave carried itself across a pond and then a field and then to the road and then to the highway, to this town and the next; to this state and the next; across the oceans to every nation in the world went this sound wave.
And suddenly there was a great pop! It became quiet everywhere. The hugely big snoring sound wave, begun under a small tree in Congers, N.Y., was enough to break the hold that the Great Noise had on the world.
This new Great Quiet awakened Hiram, Esmerelda and Jules, and the engineer among them realized what they had accomplished – by chance, yes, but also by their faith that they could end the Great Noise. They looked at one another, saying nothing, simply marveling in the moment caused by their snoring, which came after they tried so hard to find a solution while awake.
Finally Esmerelda said, “Let’s take a quiet walk back to our quiet school. We have not done that since I don’t know when.”
And that’s how the League of the Quiet began. Soon it had members and chapters worldwide. And while noise returned to the earth, it was less because quiet, too, had come back. People simply took rests under beautiful trees and snored.
The writer is a retired newspaperman. This story is adapted from an earlier piece.