So I Bought a Megaphone

Ray of Light 11/12/2005 

It started with a girl.

She came to visit. She likes antiques and knows a lot of things about them. Like, she can look at the joinery on some antiquey thing and tell me when it was made. There are lots of yuppie neighborhoods with antique shops, but I don't live in any of them. I live in a "transition neighborhood", which means beautiful, 100-year-old brick homes adjacent to 100-year-old brick homes covered in vinyl siding and adorned with monstrous extensions (built by tribesmen) such that their owners can cram 35 deadbeat, crackhead tenants into what used to be a three-bedroom house. There are also a lot of auto-body shops.

I can't drive to a good neighborhood because my truck, now 8 years old, has developed some kind of truck diabetes: it won't start without first spending 12 hours on the charger. I convince her that a trip to the pawn shops -- all within walking distance, mind -- will be good fun. She objects, weakly, and an eloquent charge of classism from me puts the issue to rest.

This turns out to be a slam dunk because I guess poor people have a lot of old stuff. Who knew? We're in hour three of the pawn shop expedition and, while she's cooing over an antique mirror or music box or icepick, I spot the Megaphone. They want eight dollars for it.

I ask the lady if I can try it out first. She doesn't seem pleased by this prospect and makes me promise to not adjust the volume. I turn it on and happily exclaim into its mouthpiece, "I'LL TAKE IT!" It worked, so the lady heard me and the deal was sealed.

On the way home, me with my megaphone and the girl with a Victorian meat churn, we negotiate plans for the evening with the help of my new intermediary.

"Have you seen Hitchhiker's Guide yet?"
"Stop that."
"I want you to promise to not use that inside the house."

We have a lovely evening which costs me nothing. Already, the megaphone has paid for itself. The next day, she's gone (not megaphone's fault; she was only staying that long). I had planned to go see "Crash" with some different friends. Movie theatres are the one thing not within walking distance, so they're driving. Anxious to flaunt my newfound powers, I load the 'phone into a backpack and climb into their back seat.

The guy who's driving has lived in the city for five years but likes to pretend he doesn't know his way around the suburbs. It's a hipster thing. We get on the highway and, knowing what was coming, I surreptitiously unload my booty.

"Now, where is this place again?"

If I had to describe what happened next, in a single word, that word would be: "scary". It turns out that certain people, like my friend, use the same part of their brain for hearing and driving. He immediately swerved into the next lane, which came as a big surprise to the guy that was in it and planning to overtake us. That guy lays on the horn, which of course overloads my friend's driving/hearing center all over again and he swerves back into the original lane, severely taxing the limits of of both his tires' traction and my sphincter's shit-holding ability. Cautiously, and without the megaphone this time, I explain:

"I bought a megaphone."
"Jesus Christ. You almost killed us."

There were a lot of things I could have said right then, and I think he was unfairly apportioning blame in order to draw attention away from his shitty driving, but I wasn't sure how much more stimulation he could handle. I really, really wanted to not die on the way to a movie named "Crash" so I kept silent. His girl, in the other front seat, said nothing at all the whole time. She's usually talkative.

The next couple of weeks were uneventful, megaphone-wise, until this morning. I went out Friday night and got all sauced up. I was feeling hungover when I went to bed at 4 A.M., and that's never a good sign, so you might imagine my dismay at awaking to the sound of a lawnmower and rolling over to look at my clock:


My clock is a 24-hour model, so I don't need to tell you if that's AM or not (it is!). My asshole neighbor (who I'm 95% sure is the one who called the bylaw enforcement on me for not mowing my own lawn often enough) is grooming his already-perfect lawn at SIX FIFTY MOTHERFUCKING FIVE on a Saturday morning. I look out the window and just stare for a while, head pounding, jaw agape. I had intended to see if he was almost done, but I can't even tell which parts are left to be mowed, that's how unneccessary the mowing was. Maybe he just likes to push the mower around. Maybe he's just an asshole.

I don't remember picking up the megaphone. I don't remember turning it on and setting the volume to maximum. It just kind of appeared in front of my mouth, its silky smooth trigger already depressed.


The grass was dewy this morning and he turned around so fast that he fell down. It was as if the sonic shockwave had flattened him, and I found that idea so funny that I segued into an amplified laugh.


He didn't get up, or say anything. He just sat on his lawn, next to his idling gas mower, staring at me and thoroughly impressed by my display. I went back to bed. Moments later, the mower was off.

As I write this, almost 24 hours later, his lawn remains half-mowed. If he doesn't finish the other half soon, I'm calling the bylaw people on his lazy ass.

Ray of Light