One time when I was a college freshman, I went to this humanities conference thing with my friend. It was at another school that was like an hour away from ours, so we had to carpool there with people who had cars. On the way back from the thing, for logistical seating reasons, I ended up in a different car from my friend, with some people I didn't know at all. It was a beaten-up old hunk of metal befitting its driver, who was a thick-rimmed glasses and faded plaid shirt type of dude. When he started the car, I started hearing this high-pitched whining sound, and I assumed it was the engine. But as we drove along, the whining sound seemed to keep getting louder and louder. It was a many-layered sound, like a chorus of small demons following you from a distance and foretelling your doom. It sounded like it was growing and growing to some crescendo that never actually came. I started imagining that when the crescendo happened, the car would spontaneously flip over, or veer off the road and crash into a tree, and we would all die. After enduring these thoughts for what felt like years but was probably only half an hour or so, I finally had to say something.
"What's that noise?" I asked. "Is it the engine?"
"No," said the girl sitting in the back seat with me, "That's music!" She gestured to the car's ancient stereo. The driver eyed me through the rear view mirror, daring me to say something else.
"Oh," I stammered. "Uh, cool."
noisemusic continued for the entire car ride. The whole hour of it. I don't know if the song was really that long, or if the driver put it on repeat to punish me for my ignorant comment (do cassette players in cars even have a repeat function?). Either way, the crescendo and our doom never came, but it was the longest car ride of my life.
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