I used to hate watching TV with my father when I was a kid (and particularly as a teenager) because he always kept the sound at whisper levels. We only had one TV — a little thing on a wooden stand in the upstairs den — and I remember saying to him every so often, “Does the sound really have to be this low? I can barely hear it!”
Your father can’t help it, my mother used to say. He has very sensitive ears. Great, I used to reply. He has sensitive ears and so I have to cup mine in order to hear what people are saying on TV shows.
I finally got to listen to TV with my own sound levels when I went out into the world, but first I had to endure a kind of hell for 17 or 18 years. Tortured by whispering Smiths. Leaning forward, “What?,” “I didn’t hear that,” “Can’t we turn it up just a little bit, please?” I would seethe at times. I’m a little pissed just thinking about it now.
Jett and I are sharing the Brooklyn apartment these days, and guess what? He always listens to the tube with the sound way down. “How can you listen to it this quietly?,” I’ll say every so often. “You can barely hear what people are saying.”