Róisín Ingle on . . . a short play about noise pollution
A woman is lying on a pink sofa swathed in a brown fleece blanket so she resembles a cocooned insect, a cassava mealybug say. She looks peaceful. Content. There is a laptop resting on a table in front of her. Nearby, a man is foostering (a real word, commonly used in Northern Ireland) around with his head in a kitchen cupboard. After a couple of minutes he takes a seat.
Man: Crunch. Crunch. Munch. Crunch.
Woman: (Theatrically loud sigh.)
Man: Munch. Crunch.
Woman: Please tell me you aren’t doing it again?
Woman: The rice cake thing.
Man: I’m eating a rice cake if that’s what you mean.
Woman: Yes, that is what I am talking about. That eating a rice cake in my ear thing.
Man: I’m on the other sofa.
Woman: That’s as may be, but it feels more like you are sitting on my shoulders eating it in my ear. And what’s that smell?
Man: What smell?
Woman: That peanut butter smell?
Man: Eh, it’s peanut butter.
Woman: Yes, peanut butter.
Man: The rice cake has peanut butter on it.
Woman: Why do you do it? Why? I don’t know anybody else who eats rice cakes within earshot of others. It’s inhumane.
Me: Even the thought of it. Going to the cupboard, taking out a rice cake, spreading it with peanut butter, sitting down within sniffing and crunching distance of me. And
. . .
Man: Do you want me to ask permission?
Woman: That would be nice yes …
Man: Permission to have a rice cake?
Woman: I think that would be polite.Quiet snacks, mini-marshmallows or candyfloss say, don’t need permission. But if you insist on going with high decibel snacks then some prior warning would be nice.
Man: Crunch. Munch. Crunch.
Woman: How long does it take to eat a rice cake? I actually can’t believe that it’s still going on.
Man: I’m nearly finished. Crunch.
Woman: Mild expletive.
Man: (softer) munch.
Woman: All I wanted, ALL I wanted was to watch one episode of The Good Wife in complete silence. That is ALL.
Houseguest: Hey guys.
Woman: (Grimly) What are you doing over there?
Houseguest: Shhllurrrp. What?
Woman: What are you doing?
Houseguest: Shhhllurrp. Shhhllurrp. Drinking a cup of herbal tea . . . I think it’s ginger and lemon. I’d usually go for peppermint to be honest but this is all you seem to have.
Woman: That’s a very loud form of drinking if you don’t mind me saying . . .
Houseguest: Not in India. In India everyone drinks tea like this. Shhlllurrrp.
Woman: But you are not in India now. This is Dublin not Delhi.
Houseguest: I will try to be more aware of my drinking. (softer) Shllurp.
Woman: (Rolls eyes. Tuts loudly.)
Man: Crack. Snap.
Woman: What was that?
Woman: That cracking and the snapping.
Man: Just a small piece of dark chocolate.
Woman: It’s like you are deliberately sabotaging my evening. I can’t concentrate on what Alicia and Kalinda are saying.
Man: Snap. Crack.
Woman: (Strong expletive.)
Man: Right, I think I’ll head to bed.
Woman: (To Houseguest) When do you think you will be heading up?
Houseguest: I thought I’d stay and watch this with you.
Woman: Are you going to make any noises?
Houseguest: I’ve finished my tea.
Woman: Any plans for potentially noisy snacks?
Houseguest: No, I don’t think so.
Woman: Then, okay.
(Half a minute passes.)
Woman: I can hear you breathing.