The Power of Words, Part III: Sound

I have two close friends who are super tasters. They have more taste buds than Harry, Sally, or Nancy. They taste–I don’t know what–flavors I don’t dream are there. Last night, one said she liked the pasta I served at a lunch 18 years ago. “Really good,” she said, brow furrowed as if there still were noodles in her mouth.
I recalled the gathering, but not the food. I said, “How do you remember that?”
“I never forget a meal.”


The tasters are often also tortured by their sense of smell. As my Southern super taster friend would say, Bless their hearts.

My husband is not a taster, but a smeller, nonetheless. “What’s that smell?” he asks and looks suspiciously at Mia. “It smells like dog.”
I say, “She is a dog.”
On folks like him the shampooch industry got built.

With some it’s touch. My brother Tom was one of those. The things I learned to give him—a scarf, a throw, a pair of leather gloves—were notably soft and never wool. Wool can’t be near these peoples’ skin. They fuss about the seams in socks.


My painter friend—canvasses, not walls—is hyper-sensitive to color. “There’s that blue shadow!” she said one day, so excitedly I thought to see a looming asteroid. “I don’t see that color other places.” I have to ask what shadow she is speaking of. She points to a line cast at sunset by the catwalk railing on our Florida condo building wall.


For me, (and for my brother—you aren’t limited to one), it’s sound. I hear rhythm, pitch, cadence, tone. Static drives me nuts. Those little noise machines? Exhaust and ceiling fans? I walk around the house and turn them off. In them I hear overtones, tortured women grieving for their one lost love.  I notice subtle changes in their song.  Go on alert.  Think something’s wrong.

Loud is intolerable to me. “You’d hate it, Mom,” one son says when I ask if he enjoyed some new restaurant. “It’s loud.” A favorite restaurant moved to a different building. The food’s the same. The acoustics are not. We never go there anymore.

My painter friend, (see above), proposed going to a club she loves. Music was blaring out the door. “No,” I said. “That’s too much noise.”
She said, “Don’t listen.”


I’m that woman who wears earplugs to bed, the problem being then I have to listen to the beating of my heart: bah-BOO, bah-BOO.  No one need explain to me iambic is the natural cadence. I’ve been listening from the womb.

Words are sounds. If you listen, magic happens.

Consider this: What’s in a name?  Open up a phone book. Read the names. A man named Willard is a different person from a man named Sam. Add a second name or two and a person will emerge.     Mix and match until you get a name that resonates for you. Arnie Hunsacker, for example, gender aside, can’t be confused with Michelle Price. Arnie is an alcoholic lumberjack. He’s missing several digits on his left hand, though he has an admirable vegetable garden. Michele? She’s effortlessly thin, which means other women cannot trust her. She’s in her moisture-wicking jogging clothes when it’s time for lunch. Food? She can’t be bothered much. She opens up the fridge and pulls up a chair, eats from the yogurt carton with a silver spoon. Yes, the spoon is silver. I can see the pattern on the handle.

All that from sound?
If you listen to it.

Words can build a world, then put people in it.



About Nancy Pinard

Professionally-speaking, Nancy Pinard is an author-educator who spends her days writing, teaching, reading, and researching for her writing and teaching. She is the author of two published novels, Shadow Dancing and Butterfly Soup, and numerous short stories. She has taught the craft of fiction writing in many venues including Sinclair Community College, University of Dayton Life-Long Learning Institute, Antioch Writers' Workshop, Mad Anthony Writers' Workshop, and Molasses Pond Writers' Workshop. Personally, her faith is what sustains, inspires, and motivates her to continue to explore meaning through literature. "You are right in demanding that an artist approach his work consciously, but you are confusing two concepts: the solution of a problem and the correct formulation of a problem. Only the second is required of the artist." — Anton Chekov to Alexei Suvorin, October 27, 1888
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