Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Otis and the Secret Technique

Apologies, first off, for not doing a better job updating. I’ve had an extremely busy two months, during which, as always, I explored, broke and/or smacked my head against the limits of implant technology. In addition to that regular business, the world continued its slow roast towards perfect juicy tenderness, the student loan corporation happily reminded me that I will soon get to make my first payment, and I obtained a dog, a pit bull puppy, who is now lying next to me, apparently dreaming of the World Cup.

The world and the loans I can't understand, but Otis I found while riding a bike in Red Hook, Brooklyn. He was filthy, shivering and starved and walked up and sat between my legs. When I explained to him that I have this busy life with all kinds of responsibilities and deadlines, he responded with this look:



Also this one:



A solid argument, I have to say. So I now have a dog. It was good to be reminded that taking oneself and one’s plans to be some wrought-iron road map is the surest way towards forgetting what's best in us and starting a pre-emptive war. Inspired, I tried the Otis argument this morning while trying to get the fee lowered for getting my car out of the Newark Airport Impound Lot. No dice. So I reached deep into my bag of tricks and pulled out the “ay, mon, give a poor deaf brother a break” technique -- a top-secret method passed down through the centuries by lip-read of mouth. It is extremely powerful – so powerful that I cannot describe it without having to kill you (which me reminds me: Jack, we need to talk), but I can say it has only been cleared for use for getting out of speeding tickets, kidnappings and similar events. Try, for example, to get out of doing the dishes with it and you will find yourself in a world of pain.

However, neither method worked at the impound lot. So I passed the morning crisscrossing a barren and sunbaked stretch of the New Jersey swampland at the mercy of a sadistic, chainsmoking Port Authority Cop who really should audition for the Sopranos. Halfway through our transaction, he looked up to say twelve.

“Twelve, what?” I said.
“Twelve. Noon. I’m going to lunch. I’ll be back in an hour.”

Nothing to do then but sit in the sliver of shade next to the guard booth. Airplanes passed a hundred feet overheard. Big trucks bellowed as they downshifted on the highway. I could hear all of this quite well, thank you. Sadistic cop returned and sent me on an one mile walk to a gas station to get exact change.

The moral: keep your registration up to date. Also: bring exact change.

“How bout that?” I told Otis when I arrived home a few hours later. His response was to slowly pass gas and fall asleep in my lap. Another unbeatable answer.

Now then: hearing’s been great. At my last evaluation, back in April, I scored100 percent on random sentences and 82 percent on random words. Those totals are up from 24 and 14 percent respectively, pre-implant. Since then, I’ve had some trouble with a frayed wire which made everything sound gooey and later and had to redo a mapping that had been set while I had a bad cold – why that affected the map strikes me as one of those things no one can explain. Sure, if you’re congested, the fluid in your ears will be a little stopped up and your hearing will change, but the CI bypasses the fluid in your ears.

“It just has that effect,” Mapper Lady said when I asked. “Especially on sensitive types.”
“Alright,” I said. “Wait. Hey.”

Work on my as yet untitled Zambia memoir continues apace. We’re having trouble finding a title that captures the experience of silence and violence in a nice pithy phrase. Some considered and rejected titles include: Silent Chaos; Deaf Man Walking; Guns, Bibles, and Hearing Aids; I went to Africa and all I got as this Lousy Case of Worms; Senselessness; The Big Zambowski; How Opal Mehta Grew up, Got Wise and Went to Africa; The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Not Sure What; and Moby Deaf.

We’re still working on it obviously. Suggestions are encouraged. But the book is coming along and has been wonderful to write. Oprah: if you're interested, Wednesdays are best.

One more thing: this Sunday an essay I wrote about watching American Idol with an implant will be in the Washington Post Magazine. I’ll post a link as soon as it’s up. Hope all is well with you.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog from the beginning, and love every bit of it.
...Just thought if I was writing a blog and there was someone out there enjoying it I'd like to know!
:)

8:11 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

Hi anon. Thanks. Appreciate it. Josh

12:59 PM  
Anonymous jabari said...

I just read your American Idol article in the Washington Post and was somewhat disappointed that you didn't share what thoughts (if any) you had about Elliott, who is 90% deaf in one ear and made it to #3 this season. Overall, it was a great article. Great blog, too. I'm looking forward to your book.

10:42 PM  

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