Talking to friends about the misdemeanors of other friends, their foibles and lovable inadequacies, is one of the great minor sports. It’s what my friends are doing now. God, you practically have to yell to get him to understand. He should get hearing aids, it’s getting that bad. He should but he won’t, he’s too vain.
No, I don’t have to hear it to know it’s going on, and because they are friends, they know me well enough to be entirely correct, unforgivably so. But vanity, the fact that I am pushing old, isn’t the whole story. It may not even be the major story. My handsome nephew wears hearing aids, and has his whole life. It’s the maintenance, the cleaning and adjusting, the replacement of batteries, and worst of all, the persistent hunting: where is the damn thing? My Dad found his after weeks of fruitless searching in the oatmeal box.
My mother’s almost as deaf as my father, so I know where this is heading. A couple of years ago the loss was mildly disconcerting, balanced by an equal pleasure in the ease of tuning out. Now I can’t tell what the teacher is saying at yoga, can’t have a conversation in a moving car, find restaurants a thrumming tunnel. Inversely, and perversely, noise is particularly noisy, the blatting motorcycle, the firetruck, the needling ping before the doors close on BART. And, (I hope my friends have stopped reading) I often hear my name being called, and look up, but no one is there.