You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy.™
Super Loud LIII.
All around me is noise. A cacophony of white hot blistering noise.
The cheers, the announcers, the sound of grown men smashing each other like mountain goats.
It’s mind numbingly loud.
A dark complected man wearing a flowered shirt to conceal a large beer belly walks by our booth. He looks to the screen, then quickly to us.
He shouts something loudly. His face twists into a smile as he continues to the bathroom.
My girlfriend is seated 6 inches from me. She leans into my personal space, cups her hands around her mouth and shouts.
“WHAT DID HE SAY?”
I laugh. I don’t know what he said. But in the course of this slow motion spectacle, I have developed a new talent for reading lips from long distances.
I lean toward my girlfriend. Our heads touch. I pull her hair back revealing a white piece of tissue paper sticking out of her ear.
The rolled tissue protrudes from her ear canal like a snow covered root bursting through an opening in the icy Tundra.
“HE SAID WE HAVE THE BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE,” I shout.
I feel my shouted words exit my mouth, but I never really hear them leave. I know what they should sound like, but all I hear as I speak is PATRIOTS FIRST AND TEN.
The sentence exits my cupped hands and enters my girlfriend’s ear space. Where they go from there, I neither know or can now control.
The words are hers now. I have set them free. Like a toy boat you push on a quiet pond at the park, I have given them energy to sail forth. But like that tiny boat, affected by the dynamics of the pond, my words are now fighting through a gale of sound and fury to reach their final destination in my girlfriend’s brain.
I watch her eyes blink as the sentence enters her ear drum and then disappears into her cerebral cortex.
She blankly turns to me. It’s a look I have seen more than once on this Super Bowl night.
“WHAT?,” she screams.
She smiles. It’s our little joke.
I glance at the speaker hanging over our heads. Like a guillotine, it is poised to behead us with a shrill whistle or God forbid another Bud Light commercial.
My ears are ringing, pulsing like a jack hammer drilling into the back of my molars. What was suppose to be our Super Bowl Weekend Get-a-way has developed into an onslaught of pain.
We love the proximity of our seats, and the visual dynamics of our front row booth. The images are rich, the HD, a colorful burst of pixels making love at the speed of light. Some of the plays and camera angles make us feel like we are in on the tackle.
Unfortunately, it feels like our ears are in on the tackle as well.
We might as well be watching Super Bowl VIII from inside the after burner of an F-22 fighter jet.
As I imagine learning sign language in my old age, I ponder why the Fontainbleau management opted to play the game at a decibel level that the surgeon general describes as labor inducing; and that’s for men.
How loud is our little Super Bowl booth you ask? So loud, we have actually stuffed pieces of napkin into our ears to reduce the sound of Niagara Falls to merely a jet taking off in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
“FIRST AND GOAL” Romo bellows. His words are a cave collapse in my skull.
“RAMS CALL A TIME OUT. WE’LL BE BACK RIGHT AFTER THIS.”
Oh No my brain screams. It’s like a panic alarm that tells me to run.
Instead, I bare down for another onslaught of high octane Madison Avenue advertising. It comes out of the 12 inch subwoofer suspended above us like acid rain shot from a machine gun.
In that fade to black from the game to the commercial, I wince. I know what is coming next. I push my fingers into my ears to deaden the experience. I know that the sound coming from the sub woofer will blast into the concave curvature of our booth and concentrate the beam of sound into a battering ram of auditory pain.
The commercial fades in and the discomfort commences.
While the rest of America is enjoying Stella Artois’s take on Sex and the City and the Big Lebowski, I am thinking about prices for hearing aids. As the music rises to a crescendo, and each waiter drops another tray of glassware, I wonder if this is what it is like to be on the front row of a WHO concert, my head jammed inside of Pete Townshend’s amplifier.
The commercial ends and I decide it’s good that I have already had children, because I am now certain this super bowl is sterilizing my loins with a constant pounding of auditory neutron energy that cannot be healthy for reproductive organs.
Why don’t I move you wonder?
It’s the damned if I do and damned if I don’t scenario.
On one hand, I have hot wings and a stein of cold beer before me. I have the best visual seat in the house. I am seated in a cozy booth 10 feet from a massive 80 inch HD Sony Plasma.
On the other hand, my ears are under attack. Waves of Scottish Freedom Fighters, their faces painted like warrior poets are galloping into my skull, sticking tiny knives into my middle ear.
Somewhere in my throbbing cochlea William Wallace is shouting FREEDOM!!!
And this is my quandary. It’s a line from the Clash. “Should I stay or should I go?”
The beers are good. The visuals spectacular. The sound a nuclear flash of radioactive desolation.
“It’s the lowest scoring Super Bowl in History!” Jim Nantz says, his words pouring down upon me like an avalanche of syllabic rocks. Each enunciation is an arrow to the auditory canal. Each word he speaks is a spear jabbing me in the back of the brain.
Is this what it is like to fight Mike Tyson, I wonder.
The 80 inch TV screen is flickering in HD brilliance. Tom Brady is driving the Patriots down the field in the 4th quarter of a Super Bowl that many will equate to mild indigestion.
I want to leave. I want to stay. It’s actually becoming a good game. I want to be able to hear my grandchildren’s recital in 20 years.
So much to consider.
Like an old man, I have asked my waiter 3 times to possibly turn down the volume on the game.
He is a nice kid and each time he has shouted, “I’LL TALK TO MY MANAGER,” only to walk to another table and take a drink order.
I press my fingers deeper into my ears. I wonder how far a piece of toilet tissue can go before it lodges into your brain. I contemplate my emergency room experience trying to explain to bewildered medical staff how a piece of paper got wedged into my medulla oblongota.
I imagine the nurses laughing at me. “Did you see that idiot in exam room 3,” they snicker. “Fool’s got paper stuffed into his damned ears.”
The Patriots run a play, but the official throws a flag.
The referee blows his whistle stopping the play.
It’s another Mike Tyson upper cut to the ear drum.
“HOLDING ON THE PATRIOTS, JIM. THAT’S REALLY GOING TO PUT THEM IN A JAM,” Tony Romo screams.
His voice is Mount Vesuvius erupting. His words, like invisible lava bombs explode from the speaker and rain down upon us like burning raindrops of toxicity.
The sound swirls in the concave vortex of the booth, distills into a perfect beam of loudness, then screams into our heads like a run-a-way freight train entering a mountain tunnel.
I try and see the bright side of this moment. I have endured 3 quarters and there is no perceivable blood oozing from either of our skulls. The booth we are in is ornate, comfortable, and sadly concave. I am not a sound engineer, but I imagine the sound being thrust toward us like the wash of a jet engine, only to be amplified by the concave curvature of the smooth booth walls. The accelerated noise is then funneled, like the energy of the tides being pulled by a full moon into my ear.
Each auditory moment is an assassins bullet.
I can actually feel each word implode in my cerebral cortex.
I’m seated next to my girl friend and this is the crescendo of our weekend. We wanted warmth, we wanted a Super Bowl experience in an exotic place.
And here we are!
An upscale sports bar, with the best seat in the house, in the basement of the internationally famous Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
The hotel was built in 1954. At the time it was considered by many architectural snobs to be the 8th blunder of the world.
Why’d he build a curved hotel, the experts muttered. (I’m beginning to feel a concave theme here.)
But humanity loved the Fontainbleau.
The curved monolith on the blue green sea was a mecca for weary souls tired of the Northern winters. It was a playground for the rich to lounge by a myriad of man made and natural oasis. The Fontainbleau was a magnificent escape for the jet set to come have affairs and live a life only captured periodically on the cover of Life Magazine.
The hotel is a celebration to a time long ago. The hallways are decorated with numerous black and white photos celebrating Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. There are glossy photos of a magnificently sculpted Raquel Welch standing over Frank Sinatra poolside. The pictures oozes sex appeal as if they are about to slip into a cabana and get it on.
And in every Rat Pack photo, the Fontainbleau’s concave architecture shines.
The weekend is a post card of fulfillment. Palm trees sway in 78 degree loveliness. The sound of steel drums plays somewhere in the distance, constantly dancing on a tropical zephyr. A stroll down the wooden promenade in front of the Fontainbleau is like a game of Twister at the United Nations. Cuban dialects mix with French accents mixed with the banter of Hasidic Jews. This place is clearly an international melting pot.
It’s been a great weekend. Food and drinks and room service and now the Super bowl pumped into my brain like a tornado exploding through a farm silo.
AND THE PATRIOTS WIN!!!
Confetti rains down on the field. It’s a billion images of undefined celebration. I visually see what my ears have been feeling for 3 hours. Confusion and disruption and chaos.
My girlfriend gathers her belongings. “READY TO GO?” she screams.
“WHAT?” I shout back.
We both laugh.
As we get to the lobby, I dig into my ears. I am surprised how far I have shoved the toilet paper. I am momentarily concerned that I am going to lodge it into my Eustachian tube.
I dig out a piece of toilet tissue. As I do, a leather faced old woman gives me a look. I am a little embarrassed. I imagine that I will be a story for her grand kids for the rest of their lives.
“And there we were in the lobby of the Fontainbleau, and this man pulls toilet paper out of his head,” I hear her saying to grand children assembled at her feet.
It is a good image, I muse. If only she knew the story behind it.
So the Patriots won. I am sterile. And I am now in the market for a hearing aid.
All in all, it was a good super bowl. Certainly the loudest super bowl ever.