My husband, Mike, in his former life (that is, when he had a life) as a police officer and helicopter pilot, has spent many an hour perfecting his skills at the gun range, and perfecting his crash-free landing techniques inside airplanes and helicopters. Back when he was young, and, therefore, invincible, he didn’t use ear protection every time he should. As a result, he has some hearing damage that, as luck would have it, prevents him from hearing anything in the sound range of my voice. He can hear the smallest of tink-tink-tinks in the engine of the car, or a single penny rattling on the floorboards, but only about 20% of the substance of what I say.
This is rather annoying. I believe that he can’t hear me, but it is my opinion that he should spend more time trying to figure out what I said instead of jumping to a ridiculous conclusion. A long, long time ago, before we were married even, which makes it last millenium, I accused him of deliberately placing the junk in his apartment so that it was spread thinly on every flat surface available. His response? “Who is Fred Finley?” (Get it? Spread thinly/Fred Finley?) Fred Finley is now official Duff Family Code for a giant mess. “Hmmmm,” I will say judgmentally upon walking in the house. “Has Fred Finley been here?”
It happened again last week. As a self-employed lawyer, I don’t earn a salary. I only earn money when I am able to work billable hours. I came home exhausted after an especially trying day of work. I looked to my (retired) husband for sympathy. I buried my head in his comforting chest as he put his arms around me and moaned, “I think maybe only two hours of all the craziness was billable hours.” His response? “Who is Bill Blauers?” Who is Bill Blauers, you ask? Bill Blauers is my boyfriend, who can hear — nay, anticipate — every word I say without making me repeat myself.
I really shouldn’t make fun of him. Hearing loss runs strong in my family, and I guess it is only a matter of time before the volume goes down on my world. My maternal grandfather, by the end of his life (he was only in his early 70s when he passed) could hardly hear anything. One of the last times I saw him was when the orchestra I played in while in law school went on a trip to NY and my grandfather came to the concert. I went and found him in the audience. I gave him a kiss and teased him. “I’m impressed, Grandpa! You came out to see me and wore your hearing aids and everything.” His response? (I swear to you I am not making this up) “Heh? I can’t hear you. I didn’t turn on my hearing aids.”
My mother, likewise, now in her late 60s, has travelled down the same path. She often speaks like she is shouting to hear herself. Speaking with her on the phone (or rather, I should say telling her anything on the phone — listening to her is just fine) is a disaster. Another true story: the phone rang at my mother’s house while I was there. She picked up the phone and said, “Hello?” Then, “What?” Then, “Who?” Then “Who?” Then, “Look, I can tell you are trying to sell me something, but I can’t understand what.” From six feet away, I heard the poor telemarketer shout, “Belltone Hearing Aids!” My mother said……………..
Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Told You…” is set to be released in the Fall of 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.