The Night of Noisy Men

A girlfriend and I ordered drinks and sat on stools at the front of a small bar. We chatted for about ten minutes when the noise in the room became so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves speak. The source of the noise was coming from four young lads drinking and shouting about three meters away. It became impossible for us to conduct a conversation without shouting ourselves. We grimaced, quickly finished our drinks and left.

Afterwards, I wondered if the noise had reached the 140 decibel limit? It was so loud that it was painful. It was like listening to an amplified boy band singing off-key accompanied by a sledgehammer. After our escape, we decided to go to a restaurant in Chinatown where it would be easier to talk.

We were seated next to a table of four middle-aged men who were eating and drinking. Once again, the men were so loud that we couldn’t hear ourselves talk and we asked to be seated elsewhere.

At our new table, I observed the group of men and wondered about the link between noise levels and alcohol. And I also wondered if there were any other shared connections between the two groups of noisy males?

Both group’s insensitivity to others was exaggerated by alcohol. (And by the way, one of the worst instances of restaurant noise abuse I have ever experienced came from a group of howling middle-aged women dining in a restaurant outside of Seattle.The waiter agreed it was too loud and asked them to reduce the noise but they continued the raucous behavior. They also had been drinking steadily.)

So were there any other common denominators between theses groups of men and their behavior? Certainly, alcohol was a common theme but were there any gender issues operating? In both instances, their heightened noise appeared to be a form of male bonding and showing off to their mates. It also felt like they were claiming territory as far as their voices could carry. Whether they realized it or not, they were exhibiting a sense of entitlement and a subconscious superiority to those around them—we were being forced to hear their conversations. As I mentioned earlier, this behavior is not exclusive to men but on this night there were definitely some gender issues at play.

There were no women in the groups, so did this give the guys a chance to unleash their inner warrior on holiday? Did the alcohol give them license to be as rowdy as they wanted? It was very odd that we experienced the problem twice on the same night to the extent that we needed to remove ourselves physically.

So why do you think these men felt they could make so much noise? And what would have happened if we had asked them to quiet down? Had the situation been reversed would these men have moved or asked the women to be quiet? I will let Shakespeare have the final word.

“O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!” – Cassio (Act II, Scene iii)”
― William Shakespeare, Othello

Picture of Joyce Agee

Joyce Agee

Writing can magically transport us anywhere. My blog looks at the experiences of being an expat newcomer; life in a small town in regional Australia, and what the world looks like living ‘down under’.


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