THE SONIC BOOMER
My only New Year’s resolution this year is to quit bugging Mark about looking into the possibility of getting hearing aids. He was a general contractor and builder for decades, and when a couple would ask him to move their kitchen sink to the opposite wall, he’d just do it. The couple didn’t know — nor should they care — that it meant the plumbing had to be moved, the pipes had to be chiseled out of the concrete floor and that a jack hammer pounding away inside a closed-in house is louder than loud.
It wasn’t their fault this contributed to hearing loss. It was the fault of the unspoken machismo that accompanies the construction trade. Evidently, “real men” don’t wear ear protection. Yet years later, when their builder buddies have all gone their separate ways, the long-suffering wives are left with husbands who can’t hear. It doesn’t matter how many times they nagged them to wear earplugs; those days are gone. Instead, they are left with conversations that go something like this:
“Did you take out the garbage?”
“I told you I closed it.”
“The garage door. I closed it.”
“But the garbage. Did you take out the garbage?”
“It’s closed! It’s closed, for pete’s sake!”
And the wife just sighs and takes out the garbage herself. This goes on for years and, for years, she wonders if it’s just an engineered plot to get her to take out the garbage all the time, but then reality sets in and she realizes it’s not a plot. He truly cannot hear a word she says. So she feels better (no plot) but she also feels worse (no hearing).
That’s the situation I find myself in now. I do not want to poke holes into my husband’s machismo, but I am getting tired of the constant miscommunication that has him looking at me like I’m crazy and yelling, “The garage door is closed! Why are you becoming so paranoid?”
So I sat him down and gently said, “Mark, please make an appointment to see if you need hearing aids.”
“What do you mean the steering fades? In your car? I don’t need an appointment for that. I’ll fix it myself!”
“What about them?”
“I think you need them.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. My hearing is fine. Now, where are your car keys? I’ll take a look at that steering.”
“My steering is OK. The garage door is closed. The garbage is out. What I am trying to say is that you worked very hard for decades, and I think the nature of that work may have taken a toll on your hearing. If you were a caveman, you’d be easy pickin’s for a saber-toothed tiger. That’s all I’m saying.”
This leads to an argument, but, ironically, it is not about hearing aids but about saber-toothed tigers. I don’t know how I go so easily off the rails.
“Oh, sure,” Mark said. “You women complain about the tigers, but when we bring home the meat, you’re happy to see it.”
“The tigers. You love it when we bring home nice, fresh tiger meat.”
“They’re going to be bringing you home!” I shout. “Mrs. Tiger is going to be happy to see you! Because you won’t be able to hear the tiger sneaking up on you! You are going to be the nice, fresh meat!”
Then I will glower at him, and he will look perplexed because of my glower, and the argument will end with Mark saying something logical like, “We get our meat at the grocery store anyway.” Followed by me making a choking sound and throwing a pot at his head.
So, my New Year’s resolution is to quit bugging him. It’s too traumatic… for me.