Until my husband invents windows that close automatically 3 minutes before the birds start chirping, 1 minute before the owl starts shrieking, and 45 seconds before the newspaper guy turns onto our street with his radio blaring at 4:16 a.m., I guess I’ll have to rely on the standard drink a lot of water before bedtime so we wake up to use the bathroom at 4:12 a.m. system to close the windows.
At some point I would think I’d get used to the sounds–and some nights I must sleep through plenty–trains rumbling by and such, especially since I’ve spent many a summer night in a house in Cape May with no air conditioning and much louder distractions–and I’m mostly referring to those outside the walls and porches of the house. There are the motorcycles who like to rev their engines on our block at 2 in the morning, the beach cleaning machine whose rattle and rumble and bright lights make it look effective even as it pushes the cans and wrappers left behind a layer or two into the sand. Then there are the good time loudmouths who decide the boardwalk or the sidewalk in front of our house is the perfect place to break up, sing songs, scream and shout, and just when that’s over, it’s time for the street-cleaning machine–another public works throwaway–and then on cue the dedicated public servant who empties the parking meters at 5:30 a.m. rolls by. Oops, almost forgot the trash and recycling trucks. People leave very noisy trash in Cape May.
I don’t mean to complain, but hearing the soothing sounds of the waves breaking is harder and harder. There is another, less soothing sound that I miss in Cape May now. For years when I was a lazy punk kid and teenager, a lifeguard supervisor would tool up and down the beachfront in his official Jeep Cherokee with a megaphone and blare: “It is now 10 a.m. Please remove all bicycles from the promenade.” Over and over again. Back and forth. Eventually when other punk kids didn’t listen, he’d take it up a notch and ad lib. “Hey, you! Get that bike off the promenade! NOW!” It is hard to be intimidating while saying the word promenade, but somehow this guy managed it. Only in my cloudy memory did he say “Get your GD bike off the boardwalk you piece of sh-t!” but the intonation was there every time. Public relations, indeed.
Of course, the other funny part is that I often cursed the guy in my head in my bed. Post-10 a.m.