“I finally came face-to-face (mouth-to-ear) with the severity of my handicap a couple weeks ago while standing at the register at Whole foods. Through her mask, the plexi-shield, and the roar of shoppers overpaying for broccoli, the cashier asked if I’d ever sampled the beef fondue in Outer Mongolia. I offhandedly remarked that I had not but promised her that, first thing upon next arriving in Chongol, I would avail myself.”—Ross Konikoff
West Side Stories
By Ross Konikoff
MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—1 July 2021—I just finished Ebaying all but a few of my essential (ha) trumpet mouthpieces in order to help finance one of the latest state-of-the-art hearing aids for which you see occasional ads popping up on Facebook between posts about puppies, Pompeo, Putin, and Palestine.
This new model features noise reduction, sound shaping technology, six tiny high-grade directional microphones, an unobtrusive size, and can take calls, play music, and narrate the Kama Sutra in the sultry voice of Sally Kellerman. My particular choice merited Time Magazine’s Technology of the Year title so, after studying the spec sheet while nodding knowingly, stroking the beard that I plan on growing someday, and failing to understand one word of what I’d just read, I ordered one.
Stand back, please. I said, “I ORDERED ONE!”
I finally came face-to-face (mouth-to-ear) with the severity of my handicap a couple weeks ago while standing at the register at Whole Foods. Through her mask, the plexi-shield, and the roar of shoppers overpaying for broccoli, the cashier asked if I’d ever sampled the beef fondue in Outer Mongolia. I offhandedly remarked that I had not but promised her that, first thing upon next arriving in Chongol, I would avail myself. She stared and snickered (THAT I could hear) as I stuffed my comestibles into one of their convenient, extra-flimsy, recycled paper bags, the ones with the special “Tear-Off-in-the-Rain” handles, before setting out for home.
Of course, I realize now that what I thought I’d heard and what she’d actually said were most likely at great variance. I’ve noticed lately that I no longer have the ability to distinguish between the letter F and the letter S. In fact, anything above 7k, hearing-wise, has been lost to me permanently, or so I’ve been told. In addition, one ear has become lazier than the other, refusing to keep up with its twin, which serves to warp my sense of accurately judging a sound’s source.
Finally, as a result of tinnitus, my hyper-sensitivity to anything louder than the dropping of a pin onto plush wall-to-wall carpeting is, at times, unbearable. Any unexpected jarring sounds around me now send me leaping into the arms of the nearest elderly lady who may be trudging along behind me, leaning on her four-wheeled stroller. I no longer trust myself to mix any tracks that I might record in my home studio, knowing that what I hear as a full, rich representation of the trumpet will sound instead, to the critical listener, like a Scottish bagpiper playing “Lady of Spain” through a transistor radio.
As to household conversations, the stock rejoinders “Huh?” “What?” and “Sorry?” have become de rigueur, Chez Konikoff, and anything that might relieve both residents of that annoyance is worth its weight in tiny nine-dollar batteries.
I can, at the very least, take some solace in the knowledge that the loot recovered by unloading several dozen mouthpieces, the very things that played a role in destroying my hearing, are helping to finance the tools that might aid in restoring an acceptable level of comprehension to these tired, old, pink, parabolic flaps.
Deborah came over just now and asked, “Is today Thursday?”
I said, “So am I. Let’s have a drink.”