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Tommy Can You Hear Me?

The ability to hear clearly being the last refuge of a guy clinging desperately to middle age, I ignored, denied and resisted the idea I might need a hearing aid.

It was different when my eyesight fogged up a few years ago and I could simply drop by the clinic to get cataracts snipped from my eyeballs and return home with 20-20 vision. Ears are different, and when you have to hang fat tan plastic blobs on both sides of your head you might as well also hang a sign that says “Frail Elderly Geezer” around your neck.

So like I said, I was a bit reluctant. When it got to the point I needed subtitles to talk to my wife I knew things had to change, but divorce somehow seemed excessive. I went to an hearing doctor instead.

One of the things you have to do when you see an audiologist is sit in a booth wearing earmuff-style headphones while pressing a button when you detect beeps or buzzes being transmitted. Easy.

I did so well I thought maybe Dr. Stephanie Griffin, the DJ playing those beepy noises, might tell me I should see a divorce lawyer, or at least have my wife speak louder. Really, I thought I got straight A’s on that hearing test.

But by the time I got out of the booth and back in my chair she already had a printout of the results, and it looked like a chart of the stock market collapse in October of 1929.

“Are you holding that sheet upside down?” was my hopeful question, which she tactfully ignored and went on to explain that while my hearing was better than the paperweight on her desk, it was not quite as good as a clam’s.

The upshot was me taking that lonnnng walk (about 14 steps) to an office down the hall where a sign on the door said “HEARING AIDS: Frail & Elderly Only.” By the time I took a seat my hair had turned white and I needed a cane.

I’m getting a hearing aid, sob.

Goodbye reckless youth. Farewell good ol’ middle age. Hello Eversole Mortuary.

Today’s hearing aids aren’t the beige, banana-sized contraptions that old guys with yellow teeth and stained trousers have perched atop their ears. Nossir, it’s the 21st century and today’s hearing aids are keeping up with the times.

Now you can get hearing aids in bright fluorescent colors that sparkle and shine, in case you want to put bling on your ears. Little pink tubes leading to bright yellow gizmos are exactly what I’m not in the market for, so I asked what she had in the way of fat tan blobs. Dr. Griffin laughed.

She had some other options. I wound up with a silver bullet resting atop each ear, with a little tube (clear plastic, thanks for asking) dipping into tiny Panasonic 600 watt speakers stuffed into my ear canals. Not really, but you get the idea.

I’ve been wearing ‘em a few days now and what’s mostly noticeable is the incongruous sounds that accompany activities that ought to be near-silent. Turning a newspaper page makes the harsh rattle of noisy aluminum foil. A bird squawking in mid-air 30 feet overhead made me duck and cover.

Piddling into a porcelain bowl full of water sounds like 50 lbs of gravel dumped down a pit lined in galvanized steel. Any word with an “S” finishes in a long lisping wash of gray. Plates, bowls and silverware clank and crash like explosions from a Dolby-enhanced space alien invader movie.

Conversations? Hard to tell. At this point 95% of my spoken words are to the dear wife who, realizing I have hearing aids, assumes the polite thing to do is yell at me. In return I point and grunt.

All these minor glitches will be sorted out I’m told, and soon enough I’ll be able to hear people talking behind my back from a quarter mile away. Not that I’ll want to.

I’m content to have my new eyeballs from the cataract surgery and eardrums courtesy of a new sound system. I think I’ll go ahead and fix all my five senses.

Stay tuned. Learn all about my upcoming tastebud-ectomy, coming soon in this very publication.

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Obvious, And 100% Effective

There’s no reason to doubt that we can solve the climate crisis simply by submitting to big new tax increases the Democrats are urging.

After all, look what lots and lots of money have done to cure homelessness, poverty, college tuition costs, healthcare and the war on Drugs.

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