Random Noise Makers

The other day I walked by a tennis court, and as I was passing by, I was struck by the tennis game between two middle aged white gentlemen. The first, a very tall, slender, red-headed fellow, gently stroked the ball to serve then struck the ball with low to moderate force each time it crossed the net to his side. His lack of effort almost made him seem bored. His opponent, on the other hand, a much shorter, pale and balding chap, threw himself at the ball each time, sprinting even just a few feet to meet the ball just after its bounce. In addition to his hilarious leaping and running, he ended each stroke with a Serena Williams grunt that made it seem like he was preparing for the U.S. Open. I’m sure his grunting wouldn’t have seemed nearly as bizarre had his partner shared his enthusiasm, but the one-sided-ness of his sound made the game such a curious display. I walked past, chuckling quietly and started to try to think about other people I know who are random noise makers.
I thought about my stepdad, who makes breathing before 8 am seem like such a daunting task. Every few minutes or so, he lets out a labored “uuuuuggghh” until he’s had his morning coffee. I most enjoy when he uses his home gym. While my mother and I sit in the living room we hear the clank of the weights in the basement, followed by quick “houuuuggkggg’s” that suggest that he is pushing himself past his threshold. My mother and I look at each other and laugh as she suggests, “that boy is crazy” while shaking her head.
Then there are those noise makers we don’t know. I’ve seen many of them, and while I have no problem with laughing out loud at my stepfather, something almost seems rude about immediately laughing at the others. What if their noise making is a condition? What if the noise making is some indication that I should be alarmed by them? What if they just can’t help it? Those possibilities did not stop me from laughing at Andre Agassi in training the other day, and I doubt that it will stop me any time soon. But those possibilities are interesting to think about. All the while I marvel at how entertaining random noise making is.


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