By Larry Teren
Ready to retire for the night, I head first to the kitchen and grab a swig of chocolate soy milk out of the fridge before the other rituals and head to the bedroom. After a minute or so of lying down and reading, despite being absorbed in a good book, I start to hear dull, rhythmic noises, vague to my sense of recognition.
I’m immediately reminded of that Dick Van Dyke Show episode where Rob is working late in the evening at his Manhattan office. He hears peculiar sounds coming from the water cooler and begins to believe it is trying to communicate with him. After investigation, it turns out to be a scientist secretly working on a toy rocket ship at night on the floor above his.
The sounds I hear are for real and make me also wonder what is going on. I know it is not an intruder because the security alarm is set to IMMEDIATE. If anyone opens the front door even three inches, it sets off a very loud continuous blast that would shortly cause my inquisitive neighbors to peek out of their units to see what is going on.
I know it is too early for the regularly scheduled knocks coming from the air vents (only during the air conditioning season). That only happens from 1:00 am to 6:00 am. If I time it to fall into a deep sleep before that thirty second interval of banging starts, I can pretty much stay unaware and rest comfortably (well, maybe). Actually, I recently mention it to an HVAC guy who is doing work at Ma’s house.
HVAC guy: “ Does it happen during the day as well?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
He: “You don’t know or you don’t pay attention?”
Me: “I dunno. The first blasts are usually the loudest.”
He: “Hmm.. The popping could be when the compressor turns on. When was the last time you replaced the air filter?”
So, I go out and buy another air filter (to have one as a backup) and take the one sitting in the front closet and replace the one in the small utility room next to my unit’s front door. Naturally, the filter that was sitting inside the blower is filthy.
Those middle-of-the-night knocks continue but not with as much authority. I then decide on a trick that involves karma- you know, the type that is used when one is watching a sporting event on television. You have to sit in a certain chair, in a certain way in the room once you establish that the position helps your team to victory. In my case, I swing the door to the master bathroom so that it is left about 15 to 20 percent open. I figure that this position pleases the deity in charge of noises in the night. So far, it seems to work. Either that, or I am falling asleep before the regularly scheduled air vent knocks begin.
But back to the cause for concern to this newer, muffled sound. After a couple of minutes, I put the book I am reading aside to concentrate from where it is emanating. It finally dawns on me that I, myself, am the perpetrator. You see, it is coming from my stomach. I recognize it as the sound of a kitchen sink drain backed up and letting the water seep through slowly. But it ain’t the kitchen sink- it’s my own human drain pipe.
This is not an entirely new experience- just somewhat shifted in locale. Usually, I can hear the sound of liquid gushing up and down my esophagus (I guess) if I drink too much before going to rest in bed. So-called Internet medical experts suggest not stuffing food so fast down the throat and not gulping drinks- give the stomach a chance to digest. Yah, sure.
Which reminds me to make a note- “don’t take a swig of chocolate soy milk before going to sleep. ” Make it plain water, instead. I kind of like hearing liquid gushing up and down my esophagus. I guess you Freud people can say I am attuned to the inner me.