Simple Ideas

Auditory Acuity

Blogging | November 14, 2012

One of the things I mention in my math class is that I’ve gotten older, the time between when a woman says “hey handsome” and when they start screaming at me has reduced over time. It went from years to months to weeks over the past few decades. I use this example to teach regression. The idea behind regression is two things change, i.e. in this case as age goes up, time before screaming goes down. I point out that regression does NOT denote causality. That is to say you can not deduce from my example that age is causing the time to decrease. It could be any number of things. My personality defects could be getting worse. Women could be getting smarter. I could be getting uglier and so there is less patience. You get the idea. However, even though I can’t prove causality, I’ve added another possible reason for the screaming.

I may be going deaf.

I have a couple of example from the recent holiday weekend that may give credence to that theory. While I generally avoid talking to people, they sometimes talk to me. Saturday night for instance, I was talking to a guy at the local pub. Actually, we were screaming at each other. He had spent the afternoon riding his bike into a headwindof nearly 25 mph inland. I was getting sandblasted by 30 MPH gusts at the beach while trying to surf. I was the only person at the beach and he may well have been the only guy out riding in that weather. Over the din it became clear that our shared deafness and seeming defiance of mother nature may have had a common root. We were both engineers. He had just driven 30 miles into this pub to get a Flemish Sour on tap. I thought that was deranged too. Until I ordered one and then compared it to a bottled version. He wasn’t so crazy after all. But we were both still struggling on the audio reception.

Next morning I walk to the farmer’s market and an older fellow points at my surfing sweatshirt and asks (I think) “did you s--- there?” I wasn’t sure so he repeats it. I think I hear “surf”. I nod that yes I surfed there. Turns out this sweatshirt has a logo of group that fought in Viet Nam and he shakes my hand, what withthis being Veteran’s Day weekend. While I am a Vet, I’m now unknowingly an imposter Viet Nam Vet. This is not getting any better.

Later in the afternoon I find I’ve gone from partially deaf to stone deaf. This was immediately after being hit by a car on my bike ride. I’m certain I was using my outside voice after the car hit me. And I recall a number of comments about the mental capacity of the driver of the vehicle forming in my head. The comments I think should have been filtered through my Catholic upbringing and my 20 years of Naval Service to produce a barrage of foul mouthed fuming. I know that is what should have happened, but I can’t recall any of the words that may or may not have exited my mouth. I do however recall making it to the sidewalk andapologizing profusely to a group of minors who may have heard some compound words that were heretofore unbeknownst to them. I mean if they actually escaped my head, a fact of which I can neither confirm nor deny.

After the bike ride I returned home and set to work on scabbing. I had failed to scab properly when I crashed 200 yards from that exact spot about 4 weeks prior. So a week after that accident there was this whole pus-filled thing happening on my left leg. I was trying to prevent that from happening on the right leg, so I did all the anti-pus stuff that I should have done before. It is possible that prior infection migrated to my earing canal and made me hard of earing.

So Monday I have dinner at the local Pizza Place. Another rather scruffy patron approaches and asks “so what is the name of this place?” I answer “Luigi’s”. He exits the door, checks the sign and pop’s back in and says “Huh, I always thought it was Loogie’s.” Loogie… as in “Hock a Loogie?” Maybe its not just me. This could be a burgeoning epidemic in Southern California.

I had at this point accepted the state of the universe as I walked into the local dive bar for a pint. The bartender poured the pint and then started to relate a tale about a customer that came in the night before. Now I should mention that even if I wasn’t deaf already, this bar has a juke box set to 11 andI usually playing some hip-hop reggae death metal fusion tune that makes hearingnear impossible for those unafflicted. So he describes the customer by saying that she referred to her vagina as a” ha- wallet” Huh, I missed the end of that first word. Was that the consonant "m" or the diphthong "nd" that followed the ha I ask.

“Oh, Ham. I think thinly sliced. Not the whole ham. Oh that would be nasty!”

He pauses and glances to the end of the bar where I suppose she sat “There is a girl you wanna take home to Mama.”

Mentally, my landscape changes.

About two weeks prior to this I was swimming at North Island and a fellow fifty something swimmer was explaining to a life guard “It’s like you have been up partying for 20-24 hours without any sleep. You mind never gets clear. And its like that all the time, even when you get up the morning.” He of course was describing middle age. This is middle age without deafness, that just adds another layer to the whole experience.

But still, much like my Mom, I’m happy to be alive even in this reduced capacity. After I left the dive bar I walked the streets passing the mentally deficient derelicts who appeared to be muttering to themselves. I passed the cheerful young folks heading to the night life on 30th street. And then I passed a restaurant where I saw couples through the glass windows of a restaurant. Sitting there facing each other. Their mouths moving, but of course no sound coming through the glass to the street outside. I nearly cried.

I’m loving this stage of life.


Any Comments?

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