Humor by Michael Showalter

My girlfriend and I live in Brooklyn, so we can hear the trucks rumbling past our bedroom late at night. It's something you eventually get used to, but it can be a distraction. One evening she leaned over to me and said, "You know what? We should get a sound machine."

I replied, "Why? It's not noisy enough already?"

"No!" she said. "I mean the kind of sound machine that makes soothing sounds. It'll help us sleep."

"OK," I said. "I'll look into it."

I already knew that when she said, "We should get a sound machine," what she really meant was that I should get us a sound machine. There was no point in having a discussion about which one of us would "get" the sound machine.

Until recently the only sound machine I'd ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine. That was Gloria Estefan's Latin dance band from the mid-'90s. I considered buying one of her albums, but I couldn't really imagine us falling asleep to a hopping rendition of "Rhythm is Gonna Get You." Passing out to it at a party, maybe, but definitely not falling asleep on a work night.

Lots of sound machines make something called "white noise." Not knowing what white noise is, I decided to look it up and found this definition: White noise is a sound that contains every frequency within the range of human hearing. In other words, white noise is all noise happening at once. Maybe I'm crazy, but this does not sound soothing to me. I think I'd need to get a sound machine just to deal with all of the noise being created by my white noise sound machine. Next to white noise, I'd have to say that Miami Sound Machine seems like a much better option.

Now I'm wondering if any Miami Sound Machine band members have a sound machine. That would be weird. Or maybe they all own one together and call it Miami Sound Machine's Sound Machine. I'd buy a ticket to that concert!

Some of the sound machines I looked at had "adjustable wave settings." Adjustable! That's cool. I like the idea of asking my girlfriend, "Honey, would you mind making the waves a little less tubular? I'm having trouble sleeping." I really hope it has a "Neap Tide" setting. I've always wanted to use the word "neap" in a sentence.

Some of the sound machines have rain sounds on them. I gotta say, it rains sometimes here in Brooklyn, and I don't ever recall sleeping better on those nights. Mostly I'm thinking about where my damn umbrella is!

Let me tell you, if I had a nickel for every umbrella I've lost, I'd have a dollar. Granted, that's not such an impressive sounding statistic, but if you do the math it's a lot of umbrellas.

I wonder if people in Seattle get sound machines with rain sounds on them? Since it rains almost every day in Seattle, I'm sure they're pretty tired of hearing rain all the time. Maybe their sound machines have "adjustable drought settings"? That would make sense because it seems to me most people want a sound on their sound machine that is the opposite of what they're used to hearing at night.

So if you're like me and live in the city, then you want a sound machine that makes waves or birds chirping. If you live in the country, however, then you probably want a sound machine that generates honking horns, police sirens or drunk people singing songs. (Come to think of it, I guess that drunk people sing songs in the country, too. Let's face it: Drunk people like to sing in general.)

After all of my research, I've decided that the sound machine I'm buying is really less of a "machine" and more of a "cotton ball." It's called an "earplug," and, unlike a sound machine, doesn't create sound -- it eliminates it. Call me old-fashioned, but the best sound of all is the sound of silence.

Humor & Satire

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