Posted by: facetothewind | January 22, 2005

Time Out – for NPR

Time Out
Author read time: 2:10
Written for NPR.
Never aired.

Recently I found myself dragged to Disneyworld with my brother and his two insubordinate children on a family reunion.

Now every time I leave the quiet of my home, I find myself at odds with one particular aspect of American culture: the constant chatter. I’m certainly guilty of it from time to time. I even confess that I put NPR on just to hear the sound of a voice.

But whenever I travel, what really gets me is the constant announcements – the relentless commentary and iteration of what seems so obvious. If a mask drops down from the overhead compartment in an oxygen-less environment, what else am I going to do with it? And could you just turn down the volume a little, please?

Now Disneyworld is probably the most unsuitable environment for a cynic, but without a doubt it is the LAST place on earth one should go craving solitude. Happy music comes out of flowerbeds there. At one point in the middle of the Goofy parking lot, an overly cheerful tram driver announced that the next stop would be, yes folks, “the stop sign.” Was that REALLY necessary?

So when my brother took to disciplining his son for embedding pink bubble gum in his sister’s hair, punishment came in the form of a “time out.” Now “time out,” for those of you who missed out on the non-violent parenting craze, is used to control your errant youth by temporarily depriving them of any information or stimulus. The terror of a time out strikes children at their core, usually snapping them into submission instantly.

“Let ME have that time out,” I grumbled to myself! Maybe I should embed some gum in my sister-in-law’s hair to deserve it. Being reminded that the next stop would be at the stop sign was really more information than I needed, and the attendant unwholesome thoughts I was having certainly warranted a time out. Since time outs are given on a sliding scale increasing with the age of the child, I thought, at 40 I certainly deserve a good hour. Unfortunately, I don’t chew gum and so I didn’t get the time out. And the next stop was indeed the stop sign.

Driving home from the airport, I heard a report on the radio about a rock group called “Sonic Youth.” One of the tracks on their album is called “Silence.” As you might guess, the track consists of 63 seconds of the good stuff. In fact for 99 cents you can download the entire track of silence. Lyrics included at no extra charge.

Now that’s the kind of music I have coming out of MY flowerbeds. Things were definitely looking up.

Host close: David is the host of Public Radio International’s Outright Radio and lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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