Back in the fall of 1995, I visited Costa Rica with a friend of mine, and one of the first things we did was take a hike through the rain forest in a beautiful national park encompassing a small range of active volcanoes. While crossing a stream in the forest we heard a low-pitched sound so loud and disturbing my first thought was that it must have been a rhinoceros in the throes of death or, possibly, the throes of passion.
Obviously, I know there are no wild rhinos in Costa Rica or anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, but the sound was so bizarre and terrifying I could think of no other animal capable of producing it. I thought for sure a couple of the giant horned beasts had escaped from a nearby zoo and were engaging in ear-splitting carnal relations somewhere in the trees nearby.
Upon hearing the sound, my friend and I beat a hasty retreat from the forest, only to learn later that what we’d heard was actually not a rhino being raped but a harmless and aptly named howler monkey. We can be forgiven for having made the mistake, though, as anyone who has heard a howler monkey’s call will attest to the fact that it sounds like some massive beast having exceptionally gratifying sex.
I bring up my little howler monkey anecdote because of a BBC News story from earlier this week about a woman in England named Caroline Cartwright who has run afoul of the law for making loud noises during intercourse. Cartwright, whose picture accompanied the story, falls short of being considered a massive beast, but not by much, and judging by the stir her coital vocalizations have caused, I’m guessing she probably sounds quite a bit like a certain Costa Rican primate.
Witness these comments from Cartwright’s neighbor, who claims she was repeatedly late for work because she overslept after being kept up all night by the ruckus: “The noise sounds like they are both in considerable pain. I cannot describe the noise. I have never heard anything like it.”
So loud are Cartwright and her husband, in fact, that complaints were lodged by neighbors, the local postman and even a woman taking her child to school. As a result, Cartwright was given an anti-social behavior order banning her from “shouting, screaming or vocalization at such a level as to be a statutory nuisance.”
Naturally, Cartwright appealed the decision, which was first handed down in 2007, but her appeal was rejected by an official who had this to say about Cartwright’s unseemly utterances: “It certainly was intrusive and constituted a statutory nuisance. It was clearly of a very disturbing nature.”
The official went on to say that the problem was compounded by the duration of the offending sounds, which went on for hours at a time, and by the frequency of the episodes, which reportedly occurred “virtually every night.”
The Sunderland City Council even went so far as to install recording equipment at Cartwright’s neighbor’s house to see how disturbing the sound was, whereupon they discovered that Cartwright’s noises were 17 decibels louder than what World Health Organization guidelines say is enough to cause sleep disturbance.
Given all that, I’m left with a few questions about this rather odd case. First of all, if a recording was made of Cartwright’s noises, why hasn’t someone posted it on the Internet so the rest of us can hear it? And if someone has posted it, where can I find it? I’d love to see if I’m on the mark with my howler monkey comparison.
More importantly, however, I have one big question I’d like to ask Cartwright’s husband. You see, I’m admittedly pretty average in bed, as far as I can tell. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and a few times I was even told I was great — though I can’t swear my partners weren’t just lying to make me feel good — but never have I caused a woman to make disturbingly loud noises for hours at a time virtually every night.
So on behalf of pretty much every guy on the planet, I have to ask Steve Cartwright this question: Dude, what’s your secret? Because I promise you that if you write a book or make a video telling men know how to do what you do, you’ll get so rich that you can just buy every house on your block and never have to worry about being too loud again.