I love music. It makes me happy. I can get lost in it for days and days. I’m also fairly good with lyrics, so I sing along to everything I hear. When I was pregnant with my little one, I liked to lock myself inside my room, turn on my favorite music, and sing along for hours. I had no idea anyone knew or cared, until one day I heard the mboch complaining to a neighbour:

‘Huyo 3CB hata simwelewi. Anafungua redio na anajuo wimbo zote!’

Basically, she was amazed I sang along to everything I heard! I didn’t tell her it was tape, and that I’d had it for years, meaning I had even crammed the beats. *cheeky grin*

I first discovered headphones at age 8. My little brother had just turned 6, and he received a truckload of gifts. I decided to sulk and throw a tantrum, so I was bought a walkman as a consolation prize. It was beautiful bulky Panasonic beauty, black and red. My dad threatened to consfiscate it since it made me ‘antisocial’. But the thing is … I was already antisocial. The headphones just gave me a tangible excuse. Sometimes I’d wear them even when my battery was dead, just so people would leave me alone. Yeah, I still do that.

There’s this girl I know who never shuts up. She’s the type that taps you on the shoulder to ask you what you’re doing. I’m always tempted to reply ‘Tuning you out with my headphones. Duh!’ It’s odd, because the quality I value most in people is their ability to talk. But when I say talk, I mean actual conversations about life and feelings and philosophy, not random idle chatter. I find small-talk pointless and exhausting, so if you tap my shoulder while I’m inside my headphones just to ask what time it is …

Anyway, I digress. Recently, I started listening to music on my Ideos. Usually, I just play X FM, but it’s getting progressively more annoying. The presenters drive me nuts, and lately, they play stuff that isn’t rock. I mean seriously, I have nothing against Katy Perry, but ♫ Last Friday Night ♫ and ♫ California Girls ♫ have no business being played on a rock station. But I suppose I shouldn’t really whining since technically, ♫ What the Hell ♫ and ♫ Smile ♫ aren’t exactly rock either.

Again, I digress. Lately, I’ve been walking around with my headphones on. They’re not really headphones – they’re those tiny pretty ones that come with smartphones, and they’re not very loud. I usually just play the stuff that’s in the phone’s music gallery, and I’ve noticed that people look at me strangely. Sometimes it makes me wonder if I’m singing out loud. As it turns out, the reason they’re staring is because I’m NOT singing out loud. So what they’re seeing is a girl in purple dreadlocks dancing on the streets and mumbling to herself.

If I was singing aloud, they would smile and think I’m nuts, but since I basically lip-sync, well, they just think I’m mad! Most of the time, I’m too lost in the music to notice their looks. But once in a while, it’s fun to stare at someone pointedly and lip-sync, just to see the looks on their faces. Then I can smile as they discreetly back away. Their facial expressions are priceless!

I’ve always found it a little pretentious to walk around the streets with giant headphones, but I start to see the point now. In the matatu this morning, the girl next to me was giving me that look, the one that says ‘This girl is talking to herself – maybe I should sit somewhere else’. I noticed that she had on a hoodie, and that underneath, she had these massive headphones, so I wondered why she was surprised that I was singing silently. But then I realized she couldn’t see mine, and she was genuinely worried. Poor thing. As for everyone else, they’re quite used to my temperamental nature, so when I don’t respond to greetings, they’ll assume I’m in a mood before they think to look for headphones.

The reason I’m walking around with micro-headphones is because pinkytoes has gone deaf in one ear, so she’s resigned to stay home and look pretty. I’ve been debating whether or not to replace her, but these tiny ones work really, really well, and they have the added advantage of scaring the s**t out of people as I mumble to myself. Sweet! Now I just need a tiny iPod Shuffle that plays really, really loud.

♫ Give me one reason ♫ Tracy Chapman

489 thoughts on “Lessons in headphones

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