My father-in-law and I are locked in an unspoken battle. A battle for control of the kitchen's ambient aura. He, evidently, prefers library-like silence. I, evidently, need music. Any music, really. Audible, if only faintly, in every room. If I walk into a room completely devoid of music, I stop abruptly, bolt upright, ramrod straight, and recognize immediately that something is amiss. No music. I can't hear any music. Must. Have. Music.
On the counter of my father-in-law's kitchen there lies a clock radio. Early ancestor of the shouldered boom box and of the more recent, omnipresent Bluetooth portable speakers. Every summer I recruit the clock radio into the service of addressing my inability to tolerate a quiet room. I know the clock radio wants only to blink the time in blue green digits. Probably it has forgotten any other features. Likely no music has seeped from its speaker holes since I commandeered its control center a full year ago. Someone has slid the volume bar to zero, which always triggers a brief bout of confusion on my part. For a moment, I wonder in panic if perhaps, at long last, the music playing components have fried or fizzled. But I know my opponent's mind by now. I suspect the volume-to-zero saboteur silently (of course) hopes I will leave it at that, and not fiddle with the clock radio again this summer. I am finally defeated after years of waging kitchen counter clock radio battles, he figures.
Instead, I call to mind the "Apocalypse Now" scene of Robert Duvall's character storming a beach with a squadron of helicopters. blaring Wagner's best-known opera piece. The radio dial is more or less always stuck on a local classical music station. So the odds are pretty good that this particular, fright-inducing composition will blare suddenly and distortedly when I accidentally slide the volume bar all the way to eleven. I stomp across the beach with my Civil War era cavalry hat and yellowed ascot. Claiming the kitchen and its environs as my own. The battle decided in my favor, once and for all.
Until I return from a day at the beach or a trip to Dunkin Donuts to find the clock radio inexplicably mute. All evidence of my recent victory gone, as if I had never actually been victorious in the first place. The kitchen has apparently not been captured and secured, after all.
It is of course possible that I am imagining this musical war in my own mind. The wiring or radio tubes or whatever could just be shorting out. A carpenter ant could be raising his or her little family in the radio's innards, for all I know. But I don't think so. I think there is a real conflagration at play for several years now. Writing this sentence, I can hear nothing from the kitchen downstairs, though I am certain I depressed the "on" button less than an hour ago. My father-in-law may have won this battle. But I am resolved to win the war.
Thanks for reading.