I’m sure we all understand the term “loud people” in the same way. They’re the type that irritates, even sickens us. They’re noisy and quite a hassle to be around.
But that’s only as far as their typical description goes. At times, we welcome loud people into our lives. We even call them our friends.
When we’re lonely or having concerns that we want to clear off our mind, we want to bombard ourselves with noise. We know, of course, that it won’t assuage our situation in a significant way. But, somehow, it can provide momentary distraction from our troubles.
At least the noise of loud friends is much easier to deal with than the big problems that weigh us down. That’s what I mean by momentary distraction, momentary relief. It’s easier to ignore boisterous, nonsensical talk than it is to veer oneself from bills that are getting due or the unfaithfulness of a beloved.
Thus, loud people are not totally nuisance, considering their usefulness in saving our sanity from our real troubles. Until they begin to hold us in their debt for our tolerating their noise. Now it’s like you have to thank someone for spilling his drink on your shirt.
It’s sometimes the fault of our so-called social graces. We thank someone for dropping by even if we’d rather be alone; we are the ones to apologize to the fellow who accidentally steps on our toe. We think it’s good manners. Trouble is, it may look differently to the other guy.
Politeness is often mistaken for meekness, tolerance for subservience. I had a friend with whom I was always compliant. Very seldom did I oppose his wishes and ideas, especially when doing so would put our friendship at risk.
I allowed him to have the upper hand in our friendship. I felt he needed my support for his fragile ego. Mutual support, I knew, was an essential dynamic between friends. Although things were going one-way in our case, I didn’t mind; friends were not supposed to count their individual contributions in the relationship.
This friend of mine was neither boisterous nor actually noisy. But, to me, he was “loud” just the same. His carefully veiled self-centered ways screamed, “Notice me!”
Our conversations were almost always about him: what he thought, what he was doing, what else he planned to do. Now and then he would ask what I thought of the stories he told. I had to be very careful, accentuate my praises, tone down my disapproval; otherwise a winding argument would ensue.
The guy would make big fuss of little matters – especially if these were little matters about him. He made me feel I mattered only because I was around him, that I had no importance of my own. I felt third-class.
There’s no question he was better off than I was. He had wealth, some public image too. Not to mention that he was very much in the social circle, because – at his insistence – he had special talents. He was into politics, business, the arts, and charity works.
He once ran for public office and lost. In defense for such defeat he claimed being cheated, and that it was actually “the people’s loss, not his.” Last week, he surprised me with a phone call – he was running again in the next elections!
With great effort, I have since successfully distanced myself from this person. It’s been a long time that I haven’t heard of and from him. I dread being within his sphere again.
There is something I’ve come to realize about being around loud people: You can grow deaf in their noise that you will no longer hear your own self.