When I was in grade 9 one of my best friends was Oliver. Our friendship was short lived as his father was a university professor and they moved a few streets over the summer before grade 9 and left when his dad was transferred the following summer. Oliver was easy going, quiet but thoughtful and devoted to his bike. Our connection began along a nature trail where we annoyed the shit of dogs and their owners and old couples walking, by burning quickly by them on our bikes, far too close to them, on our way to nowhere really.
After terrorizing the leisure walkers,we often ended back at Oliver's place. His house held a mysterious fascination to me. First off, Oliver did not have a mother. I never really found out what happened but guessed she was still alive somewhere as I thought if she had died there would be a picture around somewhere, there were none. In fact the walls had no pictures at all. The floor were hardwood (unlike my home with wall to wall brown carpet). There were no plants, but instead old tree branches stuck in pots. Oliver had two sisters but I rarely either one of them. They were always home, but they were always in their bedrooms. The oddest thing about Oliver's house was the sound...there wasn't any. It boggled my mind that Oliver's family did not have a television or even a stereo. Oliver had a small transistor radio in his room but it was never on. Whenever I did see a sister, or his father they were either reading, painting or working on some other project with their hands. In contrast my home was always loud, voices were loud and a television that my mother always had on although she was rarely in the same room with it. Even today, my parents television is always on and always loud and even today they rarely sit in the same room as the tv.
I remember initially thinking Oliver's lack of a television, not to mention the lack of noise was really odd. As the year went on I remember welcoming the quiet when I spent time in his home. It was such a break from my own home. Back when I was in grade 9 the television options were not what they are today. Television, radio today seems just full of loud people talking. They are not emoting character driven drama, most of the drama is real, or at least written to be swallowed by the naive as real.
There is so much talking it is all beginning to sound a bit muffled to me. Last week these voices were talking about a 72 day old marriage. This week those same voices are talking about the rape of a 10 year old boy in a shower stall. What is most startling is when you stop listening to the words, and only hear the voices the the two sound shockingly the same. There is far too much noise today, so much so it is hard to escape. So much noise that the brutal rape of a child gets the same amount of attention and air time as a morally challenged fame seeking family. I have no idea where Oliver is these days but I hope his auditory world has remained as pure as the one that I remember.