CD Number: 6
Track Number: 4
Song: “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” by Beastie Boys off the album Solid Gold Hits
Hear it here
It had been this way since Eric moved in. No matter how he fiddled with the thermostat, his apartment always sat at a heavy 85 degrees during the winter. He complained to the super, Mr. Rob, a short, slight man with an accent of unknown origin, several times that first year. Finally, in mid- January, Mr. Rob came by, flopped on the couch and explained, in one long sigh, “If I make it cooler up here, the first floor will freeze. And they have children. So, you know, bad business. Anyway, the heat’s not broken, but I can’t help you.”
“What am I supposed to do then?” Eric asked, his voice tinged with the kind of unearned indignation that comes from a life of relative ease.
Mr. Rob shrugged, “Open the windows. Buy more shorts. You are a smart boy, you’ll figure something out.”
In reality, it all suited Eric just fine. He had grown up in Gilbert, Arizona so the heat was actually a welcome connection to home. He had only really complained because he was worried that if he did not, the super might try to screw him in any other of numerous ways. After all, that’s what everyone back home had warned him about renting apartments in this part of the country.
Plus, it gave him something to moan about at work. That had endeared him to his co-workers who found Eric’s excitement about moving to the city and working with them all a bit suspect. Ineffective handwringing about what were largely minor inconveniences seemed to be a favorite office pastime and Eric had no interest in being left out.
But at home, by himself, he could admit that he really quite enjoyed being able to wander around his hot apartment, rendered almost arid but a wildly productive dehumidifier, in little more than a pair of boxer briefs. The only time it stopped being fun was when he caught a glimpse of himself in one of the four mirrors that we sprinkled throughout the loft. His skin in the heat took a kind of pinkish hue that he found distasteful. Add to that a new exercise regime that, while others assured him made him quite sexy, he felt rendered him a bit freakish looking and Eric was left looking at a body that he found unfamiliar and vaguely nauseating. Determined to not rain on his own parade, he resorted to throwing towels over each mirror, moving them only to inspect himself before work, church, and nights on the town. The result was that apartment looked like the most colorful shiva sitting ever with blue and green terrycloth dominating the landscape.
Today, however, Eric was layering up in long underwear, sweats, and a parka that was made by a company with the unlikely name of Tundra X_TREME! He might have loved the heat of his sixth floor dwelling, but there was something he gained an appreciation for in his move northeast. Simply put, he was silly in love with snow.
He clomped awkwardly down the front steps, still not entirely used to walking around in cumbersome snow boots, before launching himself into the most immediate snowdrift. He lay there a moment, letting tiny flakes drift into his eyes. Then, he spun himself back to his feet and stumbled/charged across the landscape.
He read enough to know that people who loved snow tended to praise it for the silence it promoted; “soft and silent” this, “quiet blanket” that. And quite honestly, he thought them idiots for it. Snow was not quiet and, if it was, it would hardly be a reason to recommend it. For Eric, snow was loud, a swiftly melt amplifier that picked up on his every step, slide, and whoop. He had grown up in a fairly large suburb with several siblings and moved to an even bigger city that seemed to rumble every moment of every day. Eric had never felt loud once in his life. But then it snowed, and the city scurried inside to watch from their windows. And Eric could hear himself. And yes, occasionally a cluster of kids or the horn of a paralyzed motorist or a distant siren bleat. But mostly just himself. And more of himself than ever. Yes, there were deserts back home and he supposed that he would have heard himself there, but…well, they were deserts. Eric was sure someone could find beauty in them and that was grand for them. He, however, was not one of those people. He preferred the snow.
It was not just that it promoted his noise either. He liked that it was never the same. Desert sand, generally speaking, is largely unchanged one day to the next. Snow, though…snow varied with each storm. Sometimes, it could be as inconsequential as the instant potato flakes Eric had lived off of in college. At others, it was like a wet tarp, thick and heavy, damn near water and yet, not.
The best thing about it though? It went away. Snow was like that ridiculous sitcom character that would stay around just long enough to pass from fun to awful. Then, there would be a heatwave, as much as one can call a few days of 50 degrees a heatwave, or the seasons would change and there the snow would go. By the time it rolled around again, you would be thrilled to see it, giggling and clapping right along with that live studio audience.
Anyways, that’s how Eric saw it on a snowy February day at 12:18 in the morning. Soon he’d be back in his scorching apartment, stretching out in front of an ancient humming box fan to get to sleep and all these attempts at profundity would be gone, not to come around until the next batch of fresh snow. Soon. For now though, there was stomping and tossing and rolling to be done. Oh, and noise. Mustn’t forget the noise.