It makes me laugh when people complain about their neighbor’s wind chime, singular. What I would give for my neighbor to have only one wind chime.
Search for “my neighbor’s wind chimes” on Google, and you get these results:
1. “Can I ask my neighbor to remove their wind chime?”
2. “Bad blood between neighbors keeps noisy wind chimes swinging”
3. “Franklin Hills Residents Suing Neighbor Over Wind Chimes”
4. The website where I ask most of life’s tough questions, Etiquette Hell, answers “Are wind chimes rude?” with “If you have more than two, and they are near your neighbor’s house, then they are probably rude.” (TWO…HA! What a dream.)
5. “LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH!! THE NEIGHBORS GOT A WIND CHIME!!” This one, from twopeasinabucket.com, like all of the articles listed above, asks the question: can I ask the neighbors to take them down? Every question sparks a long thread, with a ten to one ratio—ten haters, near and dear to my heart, who think that wind chimes are the worst things invented. And one person who thinks you should wear ear plugs because the sound is pleasant and they are insane.
6. “Can a neighbour put elastic bands round my wind chimes?” The first answer is undoubtedly from a fellow hater: “Sounds like they can and they have. So yes.”
Wind chimes used to serve a purpose. In ancient Rome, you would hang them up on the patio, or the deck, or above your chariot garage, and they would keep evil spirits away because the evil spirits were so annoyed by the sound of the freaking chimes. In Eastern Asia, wind chimes were hung to keep away birds, which are bad, obviously, and more evil spirits. In current day United States, wind chimes are used to start legal wars between neighbors.
Imagine a deck. It’s wood. It’s a double-decker deck, which means that it starts on the second level of an apartment building and crawls up to the third. It’s in the back. This is my neighbor’s deck—she is a woman whom I don’t know because we are in adjacent buildings. Remember how big cities have buildings that are about six inches apart? Remember that.
Deck furniture sits on top: three wicker chairs, a steel chair, and a mesh loveseat smaller than a two-person chairlift. (If there’s one thing I know about loveseats, it’s that two people in the heat of summer, with sweat pouring from their bodies, in bad moods, want to squeeze into a “two person” summer chair together.) There are six clay flower pots on her stairs, all with the dish that goes under the pot next to the pot. Infuriating.
The whole deck has a new-age feel: a pizza-sized glass patio table sits in front of her loveseat, holding five other miniature clay flower pots with sanded-colored-glass chunks in them. They surround an elevated platter that holds a large blue shiny ball. It looks like a regulation size bowling ball, or a regulation size crystal ball. A little fortune-teller-y. I can get past that. But the wind chimes. Those chimes make the other objects sickening, like it’s an elaborate spell-casting scheme.
“The spells! They only work when the wind is blowin’ and the chimes are chimin’! AHhhkkk, AHHHHKKK.”
— Creepy hunched, shifty-eyed, phlegm-hawking neighbor, stirring a cauldron.
“Eyes of a snake! Toes of a rabbit! Teeth of a—” “—Grandma, rabbits have toes?”
(For all I know, she’s a lovely lady who gets a wind chime every year for Christmas because she made the mistake of telling her grandchildren that she liked the one they brought back from Hawaii that one time.)
How many wind chimes would be considered reasonable? One, maybe. If it’s
nice sounding silent and pretty to look at. Two are means for legal action. Guess how many she has. Go ahead. Say a number out loud that sounds reasonable. When people ask you why you’ve said a number out loud, ask them how many wind chimes are reasonable. I’ll give you a second. How many did you say? Five? That’s not too bad. You could probably be normal and have five wind chimes. Ten? Really, ten? That’s a lot of wind chimes! A weirdo would have ten! Come on! Imagine all ten making noise! You could handle that? Fifteen?! Wow! So many wind chimes—your friends might start to worry about you! HAHA!
Try twenty-four. She has TWENTY-FOUR WIND CHIMES HANGING UP ON HER DECK! TWENTY FOUR! Her deck is smaller than a large area rug. My bedroom window looks onto her deck, and it’s close enough for me to open the window and touch four of her chimes. It’s about three feet away.
Why don’t you close the window? Problem solved. I CAN’T! BECAUSE THE A/C BROKE AND IT’S EIGHTY-FIVE DEGREES AT NIGHT! It’s getting fixed but right now it’s so hot and—IMAGINE SLEEPING WITH TWENTY-FOUR WIND CHIMES CHIMING THEIR FRICKIN HEADS OFF! I LIVE IN THE WINDY CITY! THE NIGHT IS DARK AND FULL OF TERRORS!
Twenty-four. “How many wind chimes? Oh I don’t know, maybe two?” OH! OH?! Multiply that by TWELVE. THAT many wind chimes! Multiply anything by twelve, and you have a number so high, it’s not even worth thinking about!
It can’t be that bad.
First, I know that NO ONE would say, it can’t be that bad. But to those with the audacity to think it, try this: hang up a wind chime in your room, in front of an oscillating fan. Go to bed. Tell me about it.
I wonder what this woman tells her guests—I know that it’s hard to imagine that she interacts with other humans, but I saw two other people on the deck, so there must be others.
“Welcome to my home! You must be the Guinness World Record people! That’s right—twenty-four. One for each hour that I drive my neighbors insane. Or, one for each member of a World Cup soccer team. Or, two for each month. Or, three for…” What’s twenty-four divided by three? Just kidding. “Three for each deadly sin.”
“Good afternoon! You must be here for the wind chime convention!”
“No ma’am, just delivering the mail. There’s no such thing as a wind chime convention you old bat.”
“Come on in! Here’s my kitchen and my living ro—Oh forget it, you came to see my deck.”
“Aunt Elsa, goodness gracious, where did you get all of these?
“I bought them all at once at a Christmas Tree Shop because I’m CRAAAZY!”
“Should we sit on the deck?”
“NO! IT’S NOT FOR SITTING. You’ll go deaf out there! It’s for keeping the neighbors away! See that window? That’s a guy’s bedroom! AHAHAAaaakkk, Ahhhkkkk. [Shifty eyes, stirring cauldron] Bones of a cat! Fingernails of a man! Basil!”
Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, so I bought a huge country bell, the size of a watermelon, and I burned all of her wind chimes.
Bart Tocci (’11) lives in Boston where he writes essays, performs at open mics, and threatens to start taco restaurants. He’s been told that he looks like the kind of guy who stands up for what’s right. And who goes to the store before the party. Read more here: barttocci.wordpress.com