When I started college, I realized that I couldn’t always understand conversations or what folks said to me in public. And then the first week of freshman year, this dummmmmmmmbassssss threw a couple of lit firecrackers over the transom into my dorm room, and they landed on my bed where I was reading. Right next to my left ear. Oh, yeah! HiLARious! What a totally FUNNY prank, you nutless wonder! (I know your name, too, anal plug.)
Wooo. I’m still laughing.
My ear did nothing but ring for days, so I had a hearing test. The really funny part of that story is that the How-in-the-World-Have-You-Gone-This-Long-Without-Hearing-Aids?!-verdict surprised me. I didn’t see it coming.
Too-bad, so-sad that since sixth grade I’d been a vocalist. Ran in the family. But so did progressive, nerve-loss hearing impairment. Better think of a new career, I thought. It truly sucked big, nasty, geriatric balls that I had to stop performing. At my ten-year high school reunion, Lisa J., whom I’d known casually when we’d sung (See, J-Lo? You use “sung” when there’s a helping verb, dammit!) in shows together, asked me, with genuine excitement, if I planned to join the 80’s cover band on stage.
Sheeeeeeee-it, no. I’d have sooner stripped naked and turned clumsy cartwheels while peeing in front of everybody and God. No-ho-ho-ho. I’d given up the tangerine dreams of a permanent spotlight after embarrassing myself on a handful of occasions. It seems in my case, a career in music involves hearing oneself, Beethoven be damned. So I chose teaching. Those are close, aren’t they?
Fast-forward twenty vicious years, and spiteful reality has sucker-punched my ass, snatched out fistfuls of my thinning hair, deviated my septum, and left me unconscious on the hot sidewalk. There is almost no career for an intelligent deaf girl. In fact, no activity that requires human interaction was designed for us posts.
Teaching is torment. Shopping is agony. Dinner at a restaurant is torture. And although my hearing loss is responsible for most of the distress, a large portion of the blame falls on the devolving diction of most people I encounter. Many store clerks, students, waiters, co-workers, and all of my daughter’s myriad doctors sound like they’re fighting to form words around a giant, old chaw of fresh cow shit in their mouths. I can ask folks to repeat what they say a hundred-thousand-billion times, and it won’t make a bit of difference. Just fucking text me. Jesus. Let’s at least level the playing field! And, honestly, if what you have to say isn’t important enough for you to speak the fuck up and enunciate, then just keep it to yourself.