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Traumafessions :: Reader Clint on the Sounds of Silence

February 3rd, 2010 by aunt john · 7 Comments

When I was 4-ish (1978), the big thing for me to watch was public television. WETA Channel 26. MR. ROGERS, SESAME STREET, and THE ELECTRIC COMPANY.

I don’t think we got cable until 1981 (when I was 7) or so… Back when A&E and Nick were the same channel, there were 5 movie channels (everyone knows about HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and even The Movie Channel, but few people remember the Home Theatre Network), and HBO wasn’t descrambled but was set at the tap for your house. (Meaning I could get it in my room via a cable split without a cable box, unlike the descrambled channels.)

You know what the most memorable moment of all that programming was for me? Not a specific show, but the period of silence between SESAME STREET and THE ELECTRIC COMPANY; the period of time where the screen is completely black for an unpredictable amount of time (TV programming was not necessarily run by computers back then, and WETA 26 was, after all, a local public station), followed by someone insanely screaming “HEEEYY YOOOOUUU GUYYYYYYYSSSSS!” and THE ELECTRIC COMPANY logo.

Anyway… The silence between the two shows scared the shit out of me. I wasn’t scared of the “Hey You Guys!” scream as much as the anticipation of waiting for it to happen. It filled my adrenal gland and my soul with a sense of dread. The same sense of dread I feel today if I wake up and notice that the music has inexplicably stopped playing. Is the power out? Did my computer fry? Will I be able to sleep without anything to entertain me enough to keep my thoughts from madly racing?

I’ve never been a fan of silence. I listen to music 24/7/365. I don’t sit in silence. Period. Ever. Even if I’m sitting outside in the middle of the woods, alone, I’m going to be projecting my hearing as far as possible, trying to hear as many different sounds as possible. It took me awhile to realize that my dislike of silence goes all the way back to the 1970s. At least I’m consistent.


Tags: Traumafessions

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 PropagatrixNo Gravatar // Feb 3, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    As a child, I found MANY scary elements in “The Electric Company.”  Morgan Freeman as Dracula!  The “Spiderman” episode featuring the Can Crusher!  Tom Lehrer’s “Silent E” song!
    Here’s a clip of Morgan Freeman’s most bizarre Dracula moment, in which he sings about how he loves to take a bath IN HIS CASKET:

  • 2 FatherOfTearsNo Gravatar // Feb 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I grew up watching PBS stations as a kid to see those shows as well as local channels………years before my dad caved in and got us cable (Fall 1980).  Now Rita’s sudden scream after the “black silence” didn’t scare me.    What would get me is when someone at the station would either suddenly air a test pattern with sound:

    or one with the 5 second countdown with a LOUD “BOOP!!  BOOP!!  BOOP!!  BOOP!!  BOOP!!”!

    For even a better sudden scare they would suddenly air the emergency broadcast tone!

  • 3 Brother BillNo Gravatar // Feb 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    There was one Electric Company moment that freaked me out (and is not found on either of the DVD sets released, at least that I’ve found) where the “short circus” kids are singing some song about how when they get scared, they FREEZE… and every time they sing/shout the word “Freeze!”, they would leap, as if in fear, and the picture would freeze-frame for a second or so, the kids caught in mid-air with looks of terror on their face, before starting up again. Freeze!…. freeze!…. Freeze!….

  • 4 PropagatrixNo Gravatar // Feb 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Found it, Bill! 

  • 5 ClintJCLNo Gravatar // Feb 4, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for accepting my blogpost as one of your KinderTrauma stories! I originally posted it on my blog here:
    I tell you this only as a blogwhore. Now I’m off to read some of the other trauma stories here, they are pretty funny 🙂

  • 6 Brother BillNo Gravatar // Feb 6, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Propagatrix: Wow! Thanks for finding! I haven’t seen that clip in 30+ years. You know, I can barely remember what Netflix movies I watched a month ago, yet the memory of this skit stayed with me all this time. Eternal thank!

  • 7 AsatNo Gravatar // Feb 16, 2011 at 4:04 am

    I was actually kinda spooked by Rita’s yelling, but I agree that the anticipation was strangely much worse. This would make a great illustration of the difference between stress (fear) and anxiety (anticipation of fear).

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