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Doorbell dilemma chiming out loud and clear at home

This is going to sound a little nuts, but my wife Joyce wants to change our doorbell. So what, you ask? Well, understand that we're not talking about your ordinary, garden-variety, buzzing, dinging or chiming doorbell. We're talking about . . . but perhaps I should begin at the beginning.

We bought our home just over a year ago, and while we're very happy with it in every other respect, we've hated the doorbell from the get-go. Although we didn't really know what the doorbell was like at the get-go.The house is actually hidden from the street, down a secluded lane. And because the garage is set off to the front of the lot, it obscures the porch and the front door.

Consequently, when we were looking for a home and stumbled across this one, we entered through the garage. (As has been the case with most of our family and friends since we moved in.)

Because we would bypass the front door, it took awhile before we heard the doorbell.

OK, enough suspense, the doorbell is a chime that plays a tune - specifically the first few bars of "The Toreador Song" (or maybe, "Torea-door" in this case) from Bizet's "Carmen."

If you're familiar with the tune, it's possible to sing along whenever someone comes to the front door - "Tor-re-a-dor, da-da-dada-dada."

It's loud. It's bombastic. It's annoying.

And it never, ever plays out the rest of the song's phrase, which drives me crazy.

It is, however, quite effective.

There is no mistaking it for the oven or microwave timer, or an alarm clock in a bedroom that someone forgot to turn off.

When the doorbell rings, it is immediately identifiable as the doorbell.

Unless you're a guest in the house (who has come in through the garage) or on the other end of the telephone (it's a real conversation stopper).

But it is at its most obnoxious when playful grandchildren are around. They never seem to tire of ringing the doorbell over and over. (But try to get any one of them to sit through the actual opera "Carmen" . . . well, that's another matter.)

Anyway, when we finally got around to listening to this . . . unique . . . doorbell, while exploring the house for the third or fourth time, I turned to Joyce and said, "Well, that's got to go." She just smiled. But we've lived in the house for more than a year now, and the doorbell remains intact.

It isn't that we're lazy, really. After all, we've made other improvements around the house and we're never neglectful of the important things. But for some reason, we tend to forget about the doorbell except when it chimes. And at that moment, we're busy answering the door. Then, by the time we're through with whatever business needed conducting, we've forgotten about it again.

I had begun to fear that Joyce might have gotten used to it, until that fateful day when she suggested that we change it. To something specific that she has in mind.

Joyce wants the doorbell to chime the 20th Century Fox fanfare theme.

Now, if you've forgotten what that sounds like, pop any of the "Star Wars" movies into your VCR and listen to the music that plays under the 20th Century Fox logo.)

At first, I simply took this as a joke. She couldn't be serious, right? After all, wouldn't the Fox fanfare be even more overbearing than "Toreador"?

But lately she's been calling around, and talking to people about it. And while she hasn't actually come home with anything to install . . . I think . . . I just know that one evening I'll be sitting in the living room, reading the newspaper and suddenly the 20th Century Fox fanfare will blare a couple of times to tell me someone's on the front porch. But instead of going for the door, I'll react by staring at the TV screen, waiting for a movie to start. (You know, like Pavlov's dog, a natural reaction to 20 years of reviewing movies.)

Or maybe, after we've had the fanfare doorbell for a time, we'll go to a movie - a 20th Century Fox movie - and as the fanfare begins on the big screen, I'll get up and head toward the back of the auditorium to answer the door.

Oh, well. It could be worse.

It could be the William Tell Overture.

Chris Hicks may be reached by e-mail at