Subwoofer Envy

By Beacon Staff

In my new job here at the Beacon, my desk is a stone’s throw from Main Street in downtown Kalispell. The glass display cases of our storefront translate a lot of sound to our office: the flabby growl of logging trucks, the high-pitched whine of Japanese motorcycles and the squeal of brakes accompanying every red light. And we like that busy noise; it makes our newsroom feel like we’re in the middle of the action, not sequestered in an isolated office park.

But then there’s another familiar sound. It’s more than a sound. It’s a vibration you feel before you hear it – the massively powerful subwoofer of some young (usually) guy stopped at the light listening to hip-hop.

Our windows rattle. The hanging plants gently pendulum. The water in my bottle ripples like that scene from “Jurassic Park” when the Tyrannosaurus approaches. And we bob our heads in time.

No one gets angry and no one complains – which is odd because the music blasting is such a wild imposition into our workplace. But when you reach a certain age, say, late twenties and thirties, that thrumming, colossal bass line creates an emotional conflict made up of equal parts irritation and admiration.

One of the most sublimely perfect moments in my college life was sitting in the backseat of my buddy’s Pathfinder, with his monster subwoofer in the back, listening to the opening organ solo in Led Zeppelin’s “Your Time is Gonna Come” before the first John Bonham cymbal crash and bass drum kicked in.

Scientists have proven it is a physical impossibility to not smile and nod your head at that moment. Look it up. Even laboratory rats start high-fiving during that song.

So, who am I to sneer at some teenager enjoying the same thing? I’m a 28-year-old dude with a full-time job trying to figure out which of my lunch options is healthiest. And the kid blasting rap music who cut history class to take his girlfriend out to lunch at Pizza Hut? I’d be lying if I said that my irritation over that kid’s blaring subwoofer derives from anything other than jealousy.

Admit it. You’re a little jealous of that kid too. And if you’re too young to understand what I’m talking about, well, your time is gonna come.

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