The Bandera Courier
Bandera Courier
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2011-01-27

Sound Off

Mikie Baker

My social life is looking up. I just got invited to a "Better Hearing Open House Event." Not just any open house, mind you, but an event. Wonder if that means they'll have lots of food and salespeople who talk really loud?
For some odd reason, all the companies that sell hearing aids send out advertisements in January. My mailbox has been stuffed with them.
Of course, I want to make it perfectly clear that all the pleas for hearing aid purchases are addressed to Dearly Demented Mom, not me. I hear perfectly. It's my Bluetooth that has the problem.
Frankly, this malady happened to Very Best Friend and me just the other day.
VBF: "What are you doing?"
ME: "I'm fixing dinner. Right now I'm pounding chicken breasts to a pulp."
VBF: "You're hounding chicken nests for a pup?
ME: "I think your cell phone needs a better speaker."
Dearly Demented Mom started wearing hearing aids in her 50s, so I've always been a bit paranoid the day might come when I wouldn't be able to hear people talking about me behind my back.
When two different hearing aid brochures arrived in my mailbox yesterday, my ears perked up. I sat down and read both of them from cover to cover. And as a service to you, dear reader, I'm going to tell you about the latest innovations for aging yuppies. First, let me find my bifocals.
One brochure explains "Hearing loss occurs gradually over time, so you may not notice if your hearing is diminished." Well, maybe I haven't noticed, but the Teenage Eating Machine has because I never hear him sneaking out of the house at 2 am anymore.
The other advertisement isn't a plain brochure; it's a set of cards using big CAPITAL LETTERS that look like someone is yelling at you. This company must believe if you are starting to suffer from hearing loss, your eyes are probably already shot.

Listen to the first card's promise: "Hearing Computer Unnoticed in Ears." Okay, I think the 20-something Marketing Director must think calling a hearing aid a computer makes it sound hip. Actually, I immediately assume it's just another piece of electronic equipment I can't figure out. Even with a 100-page instruction guide.
The second card explains about the "FREE Video Camera Ear Scans". Now doesn't that sound comfortable? And you'll love this claim. "You'll SEE ... exactly what we SEE! We'll look into your ear canal with our new Video Ear Camera and explain to you what you're seeing." I guess they figure if you can't hear, at least you can SEE the big TV screen.
The last card lists all the signs of hearing loss - others have to repeat words, you keep the TV on louder than a teenager listens to music and your friends appear to mumble even when they're not drinking.
What they don't explain is how many times it's appropriate to say "What?" before you give up and simply smile and nod because you still didn't understand a word said.
As for me, I'd prefer to blame my slight hearing loss on that front row seat at a '70s Led Zeppelin concert. Those frisky decibels finally got to me.