I wasn’t there, but can imagine that attendees heard a pin drop at last week’s city council meeting. A city councilperson said she had enough. She declared no more noise after she experienced the racket of 75 motorcycles cruising down Coast Highway several Sundays ago. No one piped up an objection. Everyone pretended to look for the pin that dropped rather than to confront the councilperson running hot under her usually cool political muffler. But a room of quizzical looks betrayed the notion that there was a pin to be found. The real concern was why the councilperson took the time to count 75 motorcycles that hurt her ears, rather than run indoors?
I caught up to the councilperson and said, “Passing on the left.” I skidded to a stop. “Why did you stick around to count motorcycles?” She pointed to her ears and said, “What?” I mimicked throttling the throttle. She said, “What?” I gave her the ultimate hearing test. “Are you running for city council again?” She answered making the throttle sound, “Vroom. Vroom.” She heard well enough for another term. So now I put the pedal to the metal. “You know you shouldn’t throw rocks, if you live in a glass house, right?” She smiled. “You need not worry. My house is design review worthy and on the historical list, too. All is in order.” I cupped my ear and nodded towards the south. “Here comes some more all is in order.”
It started as a tiny sound way off into the distance. The sound built on its approach. The wave was cresting. I yelled to the councilperson, “Watch the pedestrians.” The fire truck was two blocks from us. Twenty people shared our block. Five prepared for the boom. Fifteen didn’t have a foggy notion of what was coming. Then the fire siren hit our block. The prepared pedestrians had covered their ears. The sound was piercing. The 15 unprepared day-trippers suddenly looked to be on a bad acid trip. They brought their hands too late to their ears. It was a Pageant of the Masters moment. The tableau was Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”
Another more quiet fire truck passed opposite to us on its way to Ralphs to pick up lunch. “You can put your hands down now.” The councilperson complied shakily. I said, “I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Laguna firefighters cruise the Coast Highway on weekends, if noise is a prerequisite for hog membership. The councilperson sighed. “That was piercing. How can our fire fighters stand it block after block?” I said, “Easy. Earmuffs. They don’t hear a thing. Rumor has it that they even wear the earmuffs at home. They have the west coast record for longest marriages and no divorces. Apparently, they can’t hear their spouses. Noise abatement is marital bliss.”
Crantz tells the Indy he tried out to be a fireman. He didn’t make the cut, but kept the earmuffs. He is happily married.