Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Man Who Didn't Hear Too Much

I have an odd sensitivity to low sounds. But I can’t hear anything else.

It’s not a problem. It’s been this way for years. I’ve managed. I’ll continue to manage.

Sometimes I ask people to repeat what they say. And I regularly run the TV loud and play my music at full volume. But that’s out of a desire to hear sound detail. I love a good sound mix.

I hate the slightest bit of noise when I’m trying to sleep. I hear everything -- each breath my wife takes as she sleeps, the house settling even when it’s still, flying insects buzzing around . . . outside . . . at the other end of town. And because I hear so well, I haven’t had anyone check out my hearing.

“You don’t hear so well,” my wife finally said to me the other day.

But wives are always accusing their husbands of not hearing so well. They just want us to listen.

Then my boss said I don’t listen. That’s when I wondered if maybe I don’t hear so well.

No, that wasn’t it. I figured the world was simply plotting against me. So I wasn’t going to call in some fancy hearing specialist. He’d be in on the plot against me. I needed truth not lies.

I went online. I love the Internet. I found my answer instantly. I read about a guy in Tacoma, WA, who could hear low tones really well, but for the life of him couldn’t hear loud sounds. He said his wife complained about his poor hearing. Just like my wife did. He said his boss criticized him for not listening. Just like my boss had done. He said his boss finally fired him.

I hate the Internet. Lies. All lies. My boss wasn’t going to fire me for a little hearing issue. 
Ridiculous. I vented my frustrations with a stranger in line at the grocery store. The stranger was -- get this -- a hearing specialist. He said he’d have to run a hearing test on me to be able to define my condition.

My condition? What condition? The plot was thickening. And I was beginning to believe I had an actual problem. Before this “specialist” could assault me with his business card and more lies, I got his number and told him I’d call. Fat chance.

At home my wife asked if I’d looked into my “problem” yet.

“Yeah,” I said. “I talked to a specialist. He said there wasn’t a problem.”

After that, life went back to normal -- people complained about my hearing. And while none of this was new, there was something different about it all. In the back of my mind was the possibility that something was, in fact, wrong. I began overanalyzing everything I was hearing or not hearing.

“Cby yjd tkkj ote trd tgksw?” my wife asked me.

No, those aren’t typos up there. That’s what I actually heard my wife say. Normally I’d think she wasn’t speaking clearly. But with my hearing in question, I worried the problem was mine.

That night in bed, I could still hear every sound under the moon. The king of sounds that evening was the refrigerator making a buzzing noise. My wife said she couldn’t hear it. As I tried to sleep, the sound got louder and more annoying. Earplugs couldn’t hide it. Then my wife’s breathing started up.

I grabbed the hearing protection I use at drag races, but still, I could hear every breath my wife took. And I could swear I heard the refrigerator making that buzzing noise.

“There’s something not right with my hearing!” I shouted.

I scared my snoozing wife into her end table. While cleaning up the broken lamp, I told my wife how I talked to a hearing specialist in line at the store for a couple of seconds, not in his office for a couple hours as I said I’d done.

She wasn’t even mad at me for lying to her. All she cared about was finding something wrong with my hearing.

The next day she brought me in for a test. The guy said I had no problems with my hearing.

“Maybe it’s a focus issue,” my wife suggested. “Maybe you’re not focusing when you’re accused of not listening, and maybe you’re focusing too much when you’re overhearing.”

Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in. Now they were trying to say I had Attention Deficit Disorder or something like that. I needed truth not lies.

I went online. I found a test I could take on my computer that would determine if I had these so-called focus issues.

Later, my wife asked if I’d looked into my new problem.

“Yeah,” I said. “I took a test online. It said there was nothing wrong with me.”

I really took the test. But I didn’t check the results. You see, this is all just another plot against me.

-July 2013

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