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Sunday, July 17, 2005 - 8:43 p.m.

The loudest girls in the world

My sister is staying in our spare room tonight, and she's in there now, talking on her cell phone with a friend.

Mercifully, she just closed the door. These two girls must be the loudest talkers around. I'm sitting in the living room, plowing through Harry Potter at a pace at which I haven't read since I was in grade school and signed up for the summer reading program at the town library in which you tracked how many books you read before September. Long gone are the days when I wished for rain, for humid, cloudy days when a trip to the beach or a swim in the pool did not draw me outside and I could curl up on the cool comfort of the couch and plow through an entire book before dinner. When the last Harry Potter came out two years ago, Casey got first crack at it because she still reads like that; indeed, she was finished in about 30 hours, and I had the book to myself for a week. This time, she's away until ... well, until a few minutes from now ... and knowing that I had a full day with it to myself, I used that as a deadline to see how far along I could get before she came home, eager to crack it open. I've now got exactly 200 pages left, and though I'm about to take a break for Family Guy and Casey will walk in the door any minute, I should be able to finish it before I head to work tomorrow afternoon, giving Casey free reign over the tome while I work late tomorrow night.

But I've digressed. This wasn't supposed to be about reading. Here, on the couch, there are at least 15, maybe 20 feet between my sister and me -- in a U shape around the corner and into the spare room -- and not only could I hear my sister, but her friend, at times as clearly as if I was having the conversation myself. My sister might as well have been sitting next to me.

It was only a little annoying at first, but grew as the conversation progressed, and when I went to see if she was actually in the guest room as opposed to just around the corner in the hallway where I couldn't see her, I suspect she saw my shadow as I ascertained her position and then retreated fully into the room and closed the door.

Now I can only hear her end of things, and only about half the time. I'm more amused than anything. Her friend on the other end isn't the one I first thought (I can tell by the names being mentioned and the topics discussed), but it does remind me of one of her childhood pals. Those two were always loud talkers, going back to the days as playmates, when the girl's brother Matt and I would go out the front door of my house, cross over through the thin strand of trees into the neighbor's yard, and proceed along the property line to our backyard, re-emerging through the trees in a spot where the girls couldn't see us. Such surreptitious "spying" was a game to us, not that they ever said or did anything that would be of any use to us. We concealed ourselves until such time as we grew bored. They never said anything interesting, never dished any gossip. They were two years younger than us, an we must've been about 10, so what kind of national secrets can 8-year-olds possess?

We usually just ended up teasing them with something they said -- about a toy, a TV show, a person -- or the way they said it. That would annoy them, and our mission was complete.

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