In the early days of bumper sticker ‘humor’, one of the best sellers read: I’M NOT HARD OF HEARING. I’M JUST IGNORING YOU. If ever I was so inclined to have a bumper sticker, mine would read: I’M NOT IGNORING YOU. I AM HARD OF HEARING. I can see humor in the first reading; but to me, there’s nothing funny about the second reading.

            Most of the times, when a person wearing a hearing aid, asks the speaker to repeat what was said, it has nothing to do with volume. It is really a plea for slower and clearer speech. And the saddest is when you can’t understand what your little grandchildren are trying to tell you. And you ask them to repeat what they said. And you still don’t understand. So you either smile and not yes, or turn to your wife and see if she could tell you what they said.

            It is said some things are genetic. I guess I inherited my bad eyesight from my mother, bad hearing from my father.

            Dad was never much to listen to small talk. It took a lot of persuasion to finally convince him to get a hearing aid. He expected that if people had anything really important to tell him, they would holler. Other things  he needed to know could be found in the newspaper, and the only thing he really watched on TV was baseball, which he could follow without having to listen to the announcers. (On that point I totally agree with him. When I am watching sports on TV, I usually hit the mute. With the new hearing aids, the clarity is less of a problem than the inane statements of the announcers.) When Dad finally got a hearing aid, he didn’t like it. For one thing, the bad clarity made things more confusing than helping.

            Dad finally reached a point where he wore his hearing aid, but…. Mom would be talking to him. He’d nod and answer ‘yes’. She’d go on and on, and he would just nod and answer ‘yes’. And then she would say something where ‘yes’ was not the right thing to say.

hard of hearing ‘Dick’, she’d scream, ‘You got your damn hearing aid turned off again! Haven’t you?’ Like I said, he was never one for small talk.

The Old Hand :

It has been several years since my wife and I began to talk two, three times as much to each other as we had done in the past. It isn’t that we have that much more to say to each other; it’s that we have to keep repeating everything to be understood.

Now the concept of a hearing aid may sound good on paper; but in reality, it is often a pain in the ear. You can’t understand what the person talking to you is saying, but you sure as heck can hear the noise of a fan in the next room. And when a vacuum is turned on, you know why dogs hate them.

Now, one aid for the hard-of-hearing that I found that really helps is close- captioning on the TV. On taped shows, it affirms that what was said is as silly as what you thought you heard. And on live shows, the accuracy and spelling often suffers, but what comes across the screen is often more entertaining then what was actually said.

I remember when I first started using it, and two of the grandsons were over. Alex came running through the room, glanced at the TV, and stopped.

“Avery, Avery,” he shouted to his brother, “Come here and look. Grandpa’s TV is so smart, it can even spell.” I am glad he said it loud enough for me to enjoy it.

Published SPPP, 8/2, 2006

       And there are occupations that cause damage to your hearing. Stagehanding is one of the worst. You can’t wear earplugs and hear cues at the same time. If you are on headset chances the cue caller has his/hers mic open, which amplifies the noise. And rock and roll concerts!!! The PA fader is set at 11. (See SPINAL TAP)  

       Pyro explosions are becoming more plentiful as more spectacle is needed to cover up the lack of talent. And, of course, the audiences of today tend to confuse concert going with playing an interactive video game, they think they have to make more noise than the entertainers on the stage. 

The Old Hand :

For a great many years my brother Ray has had a lot of trouble hearing but never had much success with hearing aids. The problem with all the various hearing aids he had bought over the years was they all amplified the sounds, but  the heat and noise made them unpractical to wear at work, driving a blacktop dump truck, and the lack of clarity made them frustrating to wear anytime. Ray reached a point where if anybody wanted to say something to him, they better just talk loud because the hearing aids were in the dresser drawer.

Recently, having retired from his noisy job, he gave the hearing aid route another try and finally got one that worked for him. Not only did he wear it, he even kept it turned on.

The first time he wore it to the weekly card tournament, he announced to everything that they would no longer have to holler at him. He had a good hearing aid and he could hear them, and even understand what they are saying. He went on to tell them how it is different from the ones he had before, how much clearer it sounds, and how being able to hear makes a big change in a person’s life.

One of the card players, who had been considering getting a hearing aid himself, asked Ray, “What kind is it?”

Ray looked at his watch and said, “Ten to nine.”

Published SPPP, Bulletin Board 9/27/11


260px-Dave_Letterman    A month or so after this story was published, David Letterman used it in his monologue with two differences. He said it was his mother who got the new hearing aid, and it was his son who asked her what kind she bought.

            Come on, David! My story was true. Yours was probably bought from someone who sent your writers a copy of the published story. Okay! But do you really think anyone would believe that your son, age 8 at the time, would really care what brand of hearing aid his grandmother bought?


            We can officially add two more certainties to Ben Franklin’s death and taxes.

           First: With the depletion of the ozone layer, cataract surgery will be as common as tonsillectomies were in the 40’s and 50’s.

            Second: With the volume of things like IPods and rock concerts  cranked up to destruction levels, hearing aids will be as common as eye glasses were before contacts and lasik.

            So please, on behalf of all of us with bad hearing, speak slowly and don’t mumble. WHAT SAY?  





3 thoughts on “SAY WHAT?

    • Ah, Mae, that’s bad news.
      The good news is the hearing aids are getting better and better. Maybe someday they will even reach a point where you can enjoy new music. Right now, the only music I can enjoy is music I am familiar with.

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