BY TRACY GOLDMAN
I have two alarms. Now as I think of alarms, it sounds so aggressive, alarming even. I wonder, what has happened to our civilization when we need to be blown out of our fucking restful slumbers, cozy beds, and weird dreams by a blaring, beeping, screaming, cocksucking piece of electronic asshole-ness. I mean, c'mon! Can you think of a single other electronic you own that comes close to that despicable prick? Didn't think so.
So, I don't know about you, but my relationship with my alarm clock is less than amicable. I set my alarm about an hour or so before I need to get up, because I need to press the snooze button a minimum of six times. Why I extend the torture is beyond me. Each time it goes off, as I struggle to find the goddamn snooze button, eventually jabbing it angrily, I find myself muttering half-conscious obscenities, as though I can somehow make it back off, somehow penetrate its cold, stoic exterior into submission.
"You fucking bitch, this is bullshit!" I say, before my eyes roll back for another uncomfortable nine minutes.
I must not be the first to feel this way; otherwise they wouldn't make alarms that have different sounding alerts. In an attempt to thwart the maddeningly unpleasant wakeup call, I purchased a way-too-expensive one that has 22 (yes 22) different sounds. Wildly elated in the gadget section of Kohl's, I thought, "This is it, no more daily morning eardrum rape for me!"
So, I raced my newfound glory home to set it up and happily and forcefully threw my old one into the garbage, feeling like I had just won the gold fucking medal. I plugged the new one in, marveling first at its sleek, modern design -- it looked as though it promised to release sounds nothing short of a gentle hand job in a cool summer breeze. Questions raced through my mind. Which of the 22 sounds would I choose? Would I alternate? What if they're so good I can't decide? The only way to answer them was to test each one, carefully deliberating their effect on my delicate pre-conscious.
Can you tell by now that disappointment was looming? Yeah, well, I couldn't. Of course it had the standard "Beep," for those piece-of-shit assholes that love nothing more than jumping out of bed ready to meet the morning with an annoying chipper outlook on life. Next please! I ran through a bevy of water sounds. Too many in fact. There was the "Ocean," "The Bay," "Soft Rain" -- stuff like that. But they all sounded so false. Like they should, I suppose, but mired by a veil of what sounded like subliminal electronic static. This isn't soothing, I thought. This sounds like shit. Besides, what if I piss myself? I'm constantly fighting the urge to pee in the pre-dawn hours so I can get a few more minutes of sleep, and I certainly don't need the sound of rushing water helping my subconscious to go ahead and release the bladder button.
Then it started to get weird with "Foghorn." Why? Am I sleeping on the outskirts of some misty, mysterious 18th century port? Indeed I am not. Not to mention, it sounded more like a broccoli fart than anything else. I prefer to be awoken by the farts of my loved ones, if I have to wake up to a fart at all, thank you very much.
The next was probably my favorite. "Heartbeat." Are you fucking kidding me? Am I part of an Edgar Allen Poe story here? Have I done something irrevocably heinous in my sleep? Am I lying in a hospital on life support? I'll pass, thank you. That's just plain fucking creepy.
Another that I found disturbing was "Steam Train." Why on earth would anyone want to wake up to that sound? Were you a hobo in a past life? Some eating-beans-out-of-a-can, handkerchief-on-a-stick, sleeping-on-a-burlap-sack-of-rice fucking vagabond, where the chuga chuga chuga of the train actually helped lull your toothless bum-ass into sleep? Um, yeah, I can think of nothing more zen than the sound of a train.
Eventually I came across "Aviary." This was certainly the most pointless. The sound of birds chirping. But not just a few tweeting beautiful melodies like in Snow White. This sounded like several hundred in a fucking eight-ball-induced frenzy. Having a mass bird orgy. Under the threat of certain apocalypse. Besides, is there anyone on the planet with the exception of people in Antarctica and the fiery pits of hell, that can't hear the irritating noise of birds chirping outside already in the morning? Like I said, pointless.
Moving right along, we have "Roadside." Not as bad as it sounds, surprisingly. Just cars on a highway in the distance swishing by. Very softly. I've lived in audial distance from both Queens Boulevard and the Southern State, so this for me was not such a bitchslap to the face. "Roadside" is in some ways similar to "City." Although the sounds of "City" made absolutely no sense to me. Don't ask me to try and describe it. I'll continue.
There's one called "Fireside." I rather liked this one. I'm a huge fan of the sound (and smell) of crackling wood fires and don't you fucking forget it. I mean, who isn't? Being a peon without a fireplace of my own, I'll do almost anything to replicate its ambiance in my life. I even have a 60-second video on my camera of an actual woodburning fire. I'm not kidding. It's like that yule log channel they have on TV around Christmastime. I have bonfire scented candles with wood wicks that really crackle. They smell all musky and shit. I fucking love them. But alas, the alarm clock version sounded too contrived and not really loud enough. Anyway, "Fireside" is a drowsy, trancelike kind of sound. Was this a funny joke to the clockmakers where they threw one in that would actually make people oversleep and be late and lose their jobs and go into foreclosure and get divorced and only see the kids every other weekend and develop a drinking problem and die alone? Well it's not funny clockmakers. That's serious shit. I have half a mind to call the Better Business Bureau.
There's also one called "Everglades" and one called "Night Woods." They are essentially the same, which is really odd because one brings to mind the swampy bogs of Florida, where the other the crisp pine forests of Vermont. You'd think they'd make very distinctive and different sounds. Well you'd be wrong if that's what you were thinking, because both are just the sound of crickets. Loud, mind-numbing, buttfucking crickets. I'm not sure if crickets mate by buttfucking, hell they might even be asexual for all I know, but if they did buttfuck, this is the atrocious sound that would be the result.
I'm sure I've missed quite a few here, but I want to tell you what I finally decided on. "Windchimes." It's not the greatest, but it's certainly the least offensive in my opinion. It's still loud and stupid and jerks you between the two worlds faster than a hooker in Bangkok, but hey, we all have to find the off button and face the day eventually. Unless you're a pot dealer. Then you can wake up at noon, sans alarm, and just pack yourself a big fat bong, watch cartoons, and basically be just content with life.
Tracy Goldman can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.