In a bare room with an echo, everything I say is more important.
We searched everywhere, and we finally found the most boring possible way to spend our money: carpet.
On Monday night, my wife and I moved the shelves and the furniture out of the family room, and then we bribed the kids to help us cut the old carpet and roll it so I could haul it to the street.
As we ate doughnuts to celebrate a job well done, my 9-year-old son, Grant, surveyed the bare room and said with a wise-guy look on his face, “Something looks different.”
Just as dramatic as the change in appearance was the change in sound. Without any carpet or furniture, there was quite an echo effect in the room. And so, finding myself alone while the kids were just getting into bed and my wife, Hailey, was rocking the baby to sleep, I felt suddenly transported to an arena, and I couldn't help but blast the rich, raucous chords from “Back in Black,” by AC/DC, at full volume on the cement slab.
Grant came running out, wide-eyed, in time to see me starting on air guitar for the chorus, and I quickly shut off the music.
With a hint of irony, Hailey’s voice came from behind the door to the baby’s room: “A little too loud.”
Then another voice from the boys’ bedroom: Jackson, 11, yelled out to me, “Yeah, Dad! Turn it back on!”
Once it was quiet and I was left alone again, I still enjoyed the echo. Everything I did — placing a glass bowl in the dishwasher, for example — sounded miked and amplified, like I was on a stage in front of an audience.
The next morning at breakfast time, I stood in the center of the bare room and said, “It makes me feel like everything I say is important!”
Jackson, his mouth full of cold cereal, said, “It’s not, Dad. It's not."
Sadly, the carpet delivery arrived later that Tuesday morning, and, slowly, the echo chamber turned back into a normal old family room.
Then I had a brilliant idea, although it was too late. I told my wife over lunch, “You know what? It would have been good to paint the walls while the carpet was gone.”
She looked at me with a blank expression on her face, then said, “I suggested that.”
“Oh,” I said. “I don’t remember that.”
“I do,” she said.
There was an awkward silence, on account of all the carpet.