We have a neighbor with this car. It’s got one of those mufflers that don’t muffle but that make the car louder (and tougher) sounding. The neighbor must work on his car 40 hours a week in his driveway. Often he listens to thrash rock while he does so. Probably the worst part is when he starts up the damn thing in the mornings and warms it up for 10 minutes. Sounds like a helicopter is landing in our front yard. Annoying.

Behind us, down a little hill, are some people with a pool. It’s summertime and they use it a lot. Our windows are open. Kids splashing and screaming. Fine. No problem. But they also have a boom box going the whole time, for hours and hours. It’s not that loud, really. But you hear the thump, thump, thump of the bass which causes you to ponder whether your life is worth living. Problem.

The refrigerator hum is kind of annoying, don’t you think? Especially when you’re listening to quatuors à cordes in the living room. So is the air-conditioning toggling on and off all the time. Not so bad if you’re not listening to music or watching your stories on the telly, but bad when you are.

Leaf blowers are grating, especially at 7 in the morning. I rather like the sound of a power lawn mower, though, especially in the distance. I love the sound of those Rain Bird rotating lawn sprinklers that go back and forth — chk … chk … chk …tsh, tsh, tsh, tsh — either close at hand or far away. One of my all-time favorite sounds is the whoosh of distant traffic heard through the bedroom window at night. There’s rain, of course, on the plus side, but I do live in California.

Ryan J. Huxtable has surmised that Beethoven, in addition to deafness, suffered from hyperacusis, or “a painful sensitivity to sounds.” It’s pretty common with people with hearing problems, actually. I don’t think I have that, but I am definitely more sensitive than the average person to ambient noise.

There’s this person at work with an annoying voice, but everyone thinks it’s annoying. There are some clocks in our bedroom that sound like Indiana Jones punching a Nazi over and over to me, late at night. Gsh. Gsh. Gsh. I usually put the one closest to me face down on the floor and that takes care of it.

Music in restaurants is almost invariably annoying to me. My ear gravitates to it, and usually it’s awful. Not long ago I was away on vacation, out in the country, and we stopped by one of our favorite little eateries. I mean, it’s perfect. I was in a good mood, and hungry, looking forward to the meal. Serenity showered down upon me from the heavens as we walked in. It’s a little place — we were shown to a table near the kitchen. The cook was listening to Andrea Bocelli. Oh God.

We have a family joke. When we pull up alongside of a car blaring music with the windows down, one of us invariably utters “Thanks for sharing” just loud enough for us to hear. I didn’t say it was much of a joke.

When we lived in Los Angeles, behind our apartment was this guy who (also) worked on his car constantly. He apparently didn’t have anything better to do. His garage was set up as elaborately as a professional mechanic’s. He even had some sort of lift. Inside the garage, the stereo was always going, and it was pointed right at our bedroom window.

The guy would get drunk and go into his apartment to sleep it off and leave his stereo on. Like at 1 in the morning. I went over there a few times and just turned the stereo off myself.

I went over there after midnight one time. He was nowhere in sight, the stereo blasting. I turned it off, grabbed one of his nice tools and threw it in a garbage bin.  I still get a kick out of that story.