Riddle me this, Batman … Why is it that when people can no longer see the tiny print in the newspaper or make out the dishes on offer on a menu, they’ll take a trip to the optometrist to get their eyes checked. Or, at least, pop down to the local drug store and pick up a pair of readers. However, when their ears start to show the same signs of wear and tear, they stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that they might need a little outside assistance in the hearing department. Or, is this something unique to my parents?
About five, maybe six, maybe more, years ago I moved into my parent’s house to help them out, as they’re getting older and, apparently, I’m not. In exchange, I pay no rent and am free to write to my heart’s content. I know. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
The thing is, they are both in their eighties and their hearing loss is progressing at an alarming rate. Or, as they’d explain it, I’ve inexplicably begun to mumble over the past few years to the point where they can scarcely understand a word I’m saying. Oddly, my brothers have also started mumbling, as have a few friends and neighbors. It seems there’s some type of conspiracy to deliberately exclude them from conversations by speaking in low tones and slurring speech so they can’t hear a damn thing. But it has nothing to do with their hearing.
While they’re both still one-hundred-percent sharp and funny as hell, my mom’s body has betrayed her, because fuck arthritis. She spends her time in bed, while my dad prefers to be up and out and about. So when they’re both watching TV, there are the dueling volumes to contend with. In fact, there’s a spot in the hallway between her bedroom and the living room where the sounds of the blaring sets converge to create such a cacophony, I feel like my head is going to pull a Scanners every time I walk through it. I periodically have to escape to a happy, quiet place to resist the urge to put my foot through the screen.
My absolute favorite, though, has to be the things they think I say. Now, I can understand them coming up with some wacky translations if I were just blurting out random words. Like if I just shouted, “Liverwurst!” I can see my dad saying, “Give a hearse? Give a hearse to who?”
But it’s when they don’t take into account the context of the conversation or sentence that I’m flabbergasted by some of the things they come up with. For instance, I was making my mom some clam chowder the other day and I asked, “Do you want oyster crackers with it?” To which she replied, “Moisture packers? What the hell are moisture packers?”
Now, if someone is making you clam chowder, and you hear something that sounds like “moisture packers,” wouldn’t you pause for a moment and think, “What goes with chowder that sounds like moisture packers?”
Or I was going to the grocery store recently and my dad asked what I was getting and I said, “Milk and bread.”
His reply, “Silk and thread???”
“Why yes, Daddy! I’m going to make a beautiful gown for the ball tonight. The Prince will be there and I’m hoping he’ll ask for my hand in marriage!” Then I batted my eyelashes and pranced daintily out the door.
Seriously though, Dad … it’s a grocery store. What rhymes with silk and thread and is a staple at a grocery store? It’s not that hard.
It’s like living with the human version of autocorrect. You know what you meant, you said what you meant, yet it comes back with some crazy-ass suggestion that makes no sense in the context of what you were saying.
Don’t worry about them getting their feeling hurt about any of this. It’s nothing I haven’t said to them directly. Although, whether or not they heard it, who knows? Besides, I don’t think my dad knows where to find my blog — he’s not a social media guy. And my mom prefers not to read my stuff because of my occasional use of words like fuck, twat, shit, and cunt. Swearing in a blog post is to my mother what garlic is to a vampire.
Anyway, it’s not all bad news. Whereas the holidays are usually a struggle when it comes to buying for them, this year I’m all set. They’re both getting Miracle Ears whether they like it or not!