Well crap. It looks like Crabby is schizophrenic. Or at least heading that way.
A study out of Yale School of Medicine just concluded that "a tendency to extract messages from meaningless noise could be an early sign of schizophrenia."
(Details? Sure, for those who are curious: Participants in the study were folks with early warning signs of psychosis. When they were asked to listen to a tape of virtually incomprehensible voices babbling, eighty percent of them who "heard" phrases of four or more words went on to develop schizophrenia or a related illness during the study period (unless they were on meds). For the others, the conversion rate was only six percent).
So does Crabby hear messages in meaningless noise? Well, um... yeah. She does.
It all started in New York, not that many years ago... (cue violins)
The Crab and Lobster were living in a very noisy apartment in the West Village, and wished to sleep at night. So Crabby went out and bought one of those Sharper Image Sound Soother machines. These machines are supposed to put out "white noise" (static), or other assorted "soothing" sounds, to cover up the other stuff you hear at night. You know: honking car horns, drunken revelers leaving the bars after last call, car alarms, unmuffled Harleys, sirens, occasional muggings, etc.
The first few nights were fine.
Then one night, Crabby noticed that the Lobster must have forgotten to turn off her clock radio, because there was a man with one of those radio-announcer type voices talking and talking away. She could only make out a few words here and there (and wishes now that she could remember what they were, so she can diagnose what kind of schizophrenia she's going to get). But while she couldn't make out entire sentences, she's pretty sure there were times she heard a few phrases. In any event, it was very clear to her that there was a man talking in the room.
But the Lobster reassured her--no, the radio was not on.
So Crabby turned off the Sound Soother. Suddenly: no man talking. Turned it back on: there was radio man, chatting away again.
Crabby became suspicious that the Sharper Image people were dabbling in subliminal messages. Perhaps they were recording them in the background of their Sleep Soother tapes and not telling anyone? (Crabby even googled to see if anyone else had noticed this phenomenon--but she came up empty. Not enough unmedicated schizophrenics on the web, apparently).
Unfortunately Crabby couldn't quite hear well enough to tell what the man was talking about. Were these friendly "now you're getting sleepier" type messages? Or were they sneakier suggestions, like: "wouldn't you really like a massage chair?" Or, "what if your nose hair needs trimming, do you have the proper tools? You must go visit Sharper Image right away."
Crabby, not being entirely stupid, tried hitting different buttons, looking for a "soothing sound" selection with no man's voice in it. There are 20 different choices offered, and sure enough, she found some without radio man!
But some of these had trumpets in the background. Or other instruments. Or children shouting to each other or weird sounds that were not supposed to be there.
And the rest were simply not tolerable. Many of the channels on the Sound Soother feature a most unusual definition of the word "soothing." Soothing, like...train whistles, or bullfrogs croaking or traffic noise or foghorn blasts or a symphony of crickets or thundering heartbeats or birds screeching. All that was missing was the "car alarm" option.
(Also, to whine further: the sound quality of the Sound Soother is pretty horrible and each channel is really just a repeated loop a few seconds long. Crabby didn't like this machine much even before it started talking to her).
In the following years, however, Crabby discovered she couldn't blame the Sound Soother people entirely for her unwelcome Voices and Trumpets and such. She started hearing patterns that turned into recognizable sounds in other white noise too--like fans or air conditioners or even ocean waves.
Even worse, Crabby has also inadvertently trained the Lobster to do the same thing. This comes from years of saying, in the middle of the night: "Hon? Do you hear that? Listen--don't you hear that sound that keeps repeating? Can't you hear that?"
So now the poor Lobster hears things in white noise too, although not exactly the same things the Crab hears. On the plus side, now when Crabby becomes officially schizophrenic, she'll have company when she goes to see the nice doctor to get her meds.
So, Crabby almost hates to ask--has anyone else ever had this problem? Or, rather than risk an awkward silence and a post having zero comments, Crabby will also ask: how do you folks deal with Noise at Night? or How you feel about Sharper Image Gadgets or Getting a Good Nights Sleep or Any Darn Thing at All?