The Deafish, Served with a Pinot Gris.
She had one rule: “wash your hands.” Good to know. I should try it more often. I was put in charge of pouring the white wine, which is a little like having Otis guard a plate of steaks.
But here’s the thing: I was reporting. A reporter has to listen, follow conversation, pick out phrases to remember, gather names and their spelling, and keep an ear out for the snappy quote. With hearing aids: forget it. For me to follow a fast paced conversation between a dozen people with aids…might as well ask Stevie Wonder for a ride to the airport.
With hearing aids, I imagine the article would come out like this:
7:20: wash hands.
7:25: pour wine, drink.
7:30: cut piece of bread, eat it. Someone flips a fish. Why is my apron yellow while everyone else’s is white? Someone's talking to me -- nod.
7:40: look at skyline from window. Try to figure out which route Spiderman could take to get to a baby trapped on a fire escape on 86th street.
7:45: is this fish for me? Thank you. Wow, delicious. Drink.
7:50: what’s everyone talking about? I’ll laugh now in a friendly manner.
7:55: that knife has to cost $70 bucks easy. How come they don’t have those ginsu commercials on TV anymore?
…and so on. Interesting in its way, but I don’t think my editor would accept it.
Reporting wasn’t all that easy with the implant either. One thing about hearing in only one ear – it’s hard to locate sounds, to figure out who’s talking. Once I’m locked in to the speaker and can read his or her lips, I can get just about everything, until then I'm swivelling around trying to figure out who it is. I think the article ended up good enough though -- which reminds me of something my mother once said: “When I was younger, perfect wasn’t good enough. Now I’m older, good enough is simply perfect.”
Wise woman, my mother. Would have liked the white wine.
AJ and I have noticed that my hearing isn’t as sharp as it was a couple months ago. I think Mapper Lady and I didn’t quite nail the map this time. I went back three times in two weeks to try and get it right, but something is just so slightly off. It may have been the cold I had earlier, or it may be that, without four weekly classes and an office job, I’m not exercising the implant as much and getting as comfortable with the program. But hell, complaining about the fine points of the map is like complaining about the free wine at a free cooking class. It’s good enough.
“I don’t even think of you as deaf anymore” AJ said when I told her about the class and how much I heard.
“What did you say?” I responded.
“Deafish, maybe, would be a better description.”
“No it was Pompano. Very hard to get. From Florida.”
I kid. I heard her fine. We’re upstate now, having been forced to flee our broiling city apartment. Otis aka the crapping machine is outside playing with the big dogs. I want to thank all the people who have written about the Washington Post essay. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Your comments mean so much. Hopefully the essay will lead to more pieces, though at the moment I should be focused on the memoir. Which explains why first thing tomorrow, I will be barrelling around a racetrack at high speeds for a report on a racecar driving school. It’s a hard life.