Delicious Clicks

When my wife and I completed a partial remodel of our house last year, we replaced the rather ordinary-looking front door with a solid-core faux mahogany beauty, highlighted with a stylish centered rain glass cutout.  This single architectural element transformed our entry into a much more inviting space.  But after many months of opening our new door, I’ve come to realize it’s not just the look I enjoy so much.  It’s the sound.  A door of this caliber comes with a well-machined, weighty set of hinges and lockset.  Close the door and you’ll hear the latch and catch nestle comfortably and perfectly together.  It’s one of the most pleasing sounds I’ve ever heard.  I call it a delicious click.

Our newish front door

Delicious clicks.  Maybe you already know what I’m talking about.  You hear a rich, deep sound and you immediately think “high quality” or “high dollar” or just “n-i-c-e…”.  You hear this kind of a click in someone’s house and you think, “whoa, these people have it made”.  If you haven’t experienced this brand of audible, here’s an idea.  Your local bank may have a walk-in safe, one of those with the big spinner handle front and center on the door.  Maybe you can hang around until the time they secure the safe.  They’ll push that massive steel door closed on silent hinges.  They’ll spin the handle until it catches, and then secure the deadbolt with a secondary lever.

That’s when you’ll hear it.  A delicious click.

I’d love to trademark my little sound phrase but I must give credit where credit is due, so I summon James Bond.  Rather, James Bond’s creator, the author Ian Fleming.  After From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, and all of the other Bond adventures, Fleming wrote a wonderful, timeless children’s story called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1964).  For those not familiar (and shame on you), Chitty is about a nutty inventor living in a windmill with his family, the nearby candy company whose owner’s daughter is “Truly Scrumptious“, a mysterious castle in a land called Vulgaria, and the magical flying car that brings it all together.

Note the license plate

Perfect for this post, “chitty chitty bang bang” is also the sound of the flying car’s engine when it’s in gear.  There’s a moment in the movie where you hear the four-part tempo and you think, “perfect words to describe it!”  But more to my point today, it’s the car’s doors that are even more pleasing.  Even without a copy of the book in my hands, I still remember the author’s description as Chitty’s doors came to a close.  Delicious clicks.

Mercedes just came out with its “largest and most luxurious” electric car, the EQS.  It’s the battery-powered equivalent of the popular S-class sedan.  It has an aerodynamically sloping hood to make speeds above 100 mph (!) smoother.  The EQS can travel 480 miles on a single charge.  And the purchase will set you back over $100K.

Ferrari’s 296 GTB

Ferrari just came out with a new “supercar” with 818 horsepower and a V6 engine.  The “296 GTB” is also a plug-in hybrid.  It’s not Ferrari’s fastest car but it sure looks like fun to drive.  If you have the means, the 296 GTB will set you back the equivalent of three Mercedes EQS’s.

I can’t afford either of these cars; not even close.  But I can guarantee one thing.  Whether you go with the Mercedes or the Ferrari, your money will get you meticulously crafted doors on your car.  With delicious clicks.

Only $900 on Amazon!

Recently one of my liquid soap bottles was down to its last few drops.  When I pressed down for more the nozzle made a horrible, empty, nasally kind of plea for more soap.  What an awful sound.  Not exactly “toot sweet”.

On that note, I think I’ll close my front door again.

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Sounds Good to Me

At the movies last weekend, as we waited for the lights to dim, two women were having a conversation in the row in front of us.  What struck me was not what they were talking about, but how they sounded.  Their voices projected loud and clear above the quieter chatter of others in the theater.  Yet they were talking normally, neither straining nor raising their voices.  It’s like they had built-in megaphones.

36 - velvety

I find that fascinating about the human voice.  With one person the words come out all velvety and smooth, like honey-dripped taffy.  With others it’s all cymbals and brass band.

Take “Debbie” on the current season of television’s “Survivor”.  If you watch, you know who Debbie is (the self-proclaimed uber-intelligent “Brain Tribe” member).  But even if you didn’t know all that about Debbie, you’d recognize her voice in a heartbeat.  There’s just something about her combination of accent, volume, and non-stop blah-blah-blah.

When I hear voices like Debbie’s, I’m spirited back in time to high school speech class.  Midway through that semester so many years ago, our teacher brought in an “alumna” to demonstrate public speaking at its most refined.  I’ll never forget it.  Our guest spent several moments standing quietly in front of us; eyes closed, breathing deep, as if preparing for a long delivery.  Then she simply said:

Thank you for the plums.  They were delicious.”

That was it.  That was her entire speech.  But I was utterly spellbound.  The way she delivered just two lines: enunciating each word completely, starting and finishing each sentence smoothly, captivating her audience with her words as well as her body language – was the total sensory experience.  I could hear her eating those plums.  I could see the juice dripping down her lips.  I could even taste those plums myself (and they were delicious).  To this day it is one of the most powerful moments of speech I have ever witnessed.

The accents in the Southern states – i.e. Virginia or South Carolina or Georgia – are similarly spellbinding.  I remember touring a plantation house once when I was a teenager, and our guide was a short, heavy-set black woman who possessed one the softest, sweetest voices I had ever heard.  Her words were so calming and mesmerizing I found myself falling asleep on my feet, jaw dropped.  I hope she realized that was a compliment, because I can still hear her voice to this day.

The Irish accent is even more affecting to me.  Male or female; on the Emerald Isle or watching the movie “Brooklyn”; there is something utterly captivating about the Irish spin on the spoken word.  It is soft and fluid, with subtle twists of pronunciation and emphasis.  It’s like an audio massage.  I could listen to the female Irish voice for hours on end (just as my wife could listen to the male equivalent.  Hate you for that, Colin Farrell).

Since I am neither Irish nor a resident of the South, nor even a refined public speaker, I settle instead for using words that simply sound nice.  Search the Web and you’ll find lists of “the most beautiful words” or “the sweetest-sounding words”.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • cashmere
  • cinnamon
  • chimes
  • dulcet
  • effervescence
  • grace
  • lithe
  • mist
  • murmur
  • rhapsody
  • sapphire
  • serene

Don’t those sound nice and velvety?  Don’t they bring just a tinge of comfort, or conjure up images of the nicer things in life?  To conclude, some of us may not possess the most pleasant of pipes (like Survivor Debbie).  But at least we have some sugary words that can bring us a little closer to that honey-dripped taffy.