Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lead Us Not Into Deafness, But Deliver Us From Earwax

As a mere tike – blissfully ignorant of endemic corruption, disease, and Sub-Saharan pestilence – The Bastard was nearly pegged as a “special needs child” by the sandbox czars of his elementary school. Then again, during the salad days of Reaganomics, politically correct euphemism had yet to intrude upon our synthesizer coveting, legwarmer-clad society. In the red-bricked realm of education, terms like “special” (retarded), “exceptional” (fucking insane), or in my case “hearing impaired” (stone cold deaf) were but a mere twinkle in the eye of the next decade’s niggling liberal wuss. In fact, one could argue that our resident nurse, in the parlance of the times, advised my mother to “drag my deaf ass to an otologist” or risk having one of those atrocious phonograph cones rammed through my eardrum in an emergency implant procedure that would horrify 90% of the third world. Or so I imagined. To a free wheeling second grader raised on Saturday morning Loony Tunes marathons, reality and stupidity can become dreadfully blurred. When left unchecked, said stupidity might even cause a child to flunk his hearing test. Accidentally. Affecting enough distress upon his thoroughly vexed parents to involve the services of a revered and expensive ear specialist, 200 miles away.

I’m not normally an idiot, but I sometimes play one inadvertently. Although Nurse Ratched promptly fitted me with oversize manhole cover headphones (known affectionately as “cans”), she neglected to explain the rules of the test, at least in a manner palatable to a lunchbox toting rugrat with recess on the brain. Or perhaps, in the most eye winking of ironies, I neglected to listen. Whatever the case, most thumb twiddling brats understood that a series of tones was to be activated in either the right or left headphone with varying degrees of randomness. Upon detecting each sounder, this captive audience of nose bleeders, ass pickers, and lice heads (i.e. the future of America), was instructed to tap the correct ear from whence the notes originated. And in roughly ten minutes, following an approvingly curt nod and hair tussle from the test administrator, one could return to their regularly scheduled lesson on “just saying no” to candy from molesters, already in progress. In other words, you needn’t be some telepathic savant to acknowledge a few simple tweets of Morse code. But to a clueless, diminutive horse’s arse like this writer – unable to steady a humongous apparatus atop his tiny crown much less comprehend the nonsense of haphazard beeps – results were faked out of frantic desperation; arms alternately flailing with the zeal of a Tourette’s patient on a particularly trying afternoon. Hell, I’d mastered the colorblind exam like a champ (you know, numbers hidden amongst a series of dots), and rightfully sailed into this one with the ego of an overconfident prizefighter. Knocked unconscious before the first round.

Staggering ignorance aside, my hearing was fine, exemplary even, or so argued the specialist flown in from Washington DC to assuage my parents’ concerns. Wax buildup, on the other hand, was a hot button issue, as my cochlear canal evidently resembled the inside of a beehive; assuming the bees were jacked up on crack cocaine and worked sturdily through the night like your typical long-haul trucker. Over the next several weeks, (what felt like) gallons of Debrox solution were unceremoniously dumped into both ears, clearing the blockages in the hopes that I could one day pass floss through my empty head in the manner of some Coney Island freak show draw. Unnervingly, the medicine would sizzle and pop, like bacon in a pan, as I lay in the fetal position every night, pondering the exact spot where my life had veered so horribly off the rails. Emergency earwax removal had assumed key placement in the evening ritual of goodnight hugs and the Our Father, and I could either accept it with maturity, or accept it like a whimpering sissy-boy, depending on how the mood struck. Thankfully, this liquid ear excavator, whatever it was, it is still produced – and no one to my knowledge was jailed for producing it – alleviating any concerns of having received the aural version of thalidomide while ensnared in my own (death) bed; dad overseeing the equivalent of a waterboarding session as my ear hissed and sputtered like something doused in battery acid.

Although I boast my share of problems, cranking the television to window shattering decibels, or screaming like a loon at the dinner table, three inches from my wife’s face over the course of normal conversation, aren’t on that list. And noting a distinct positive, I’ve learned to appreciate (read: love) the scent of my own earwax. There’s nothing quite like bringing a stained pinky to one’s nostril and having that punchy aroma overwork the endorphins. Wax is the new cologne, dear reader, tweaking my senses like a sharp swallow of absinthe. While I no longer debase the pages of books with blotchy orange fingerprints, purposely marking my insignia, that brief romance with perceived hearing loss is forever regarded as my first love. Debrox, I hardly knew ya, yet I was your bitch for countless weeks in the early 1980’s. Thank you for making me feel less "special."

27 comments:

bluntdelivery said...

this wouldn't happen to be inspired by the comment section over at blunt delivery would it?

gosh. my blog is so inspiring.

Expat From Hell said...

Only a true writer can make this mole hill into a mountain. You have done magnificently. As a fellow head-of-wax, I always wondered if others suffered the same condition. Sometimes it would seem better to just let the stuff build up and turn the world off, yes?

ExpatFromHell

Jen said...

As a child, my husband was taken into the doctor to have his hearing checked. Apparently, his mother was not sure if he truly could not hear or he was choosing not to listen. Glad she did that as his apparent inability to hear me drives me nearly insane some days. Just a bad case of selective listening was his diagnosis. Don't think the Debrox will take care of that.

Chris @ Maugeritaville said...

Excellently written, more than a tad creepy, and thoroughly disgusting. In short, another Bastardly Masterpiece. Perhaps you could get together with Andy Dufresne of "Shawshank" fame and carve out a chess set.

Ron said...

Hey MVD...your ear test brought back so many memories for me while attending catholic school. Once a year they would bring the apparatus into the nurses office and give each one of us the test. I SO remember having to raise my hand up according to which ear the sound was coming through.

Have you ever heard of something called, ear coning? A friend of mine in Florida uses them and they seem to work.

Hey...my job is actually within the fragrance business and you just gave me a brilliant idea for a new cologne...Absinthe.

MVD said...

Hey Brit - Perhaps you're referencing that comment section where you lovingly coined me a "sick bastard," a "disgusting bastard," and a "sick SOB" on three (count 'em, three) separate occasions within a 15 minute span.

I had to take a long shower after that severe verbal thrashing, feeling sub-human and quite dejected.

MVD said...

"Sometimes it would seem better to just let the stuff build up and turn the world off, yes?"

At certain points, Expat, the wax is a godsend. However, based on prior history, I'm afraid that excuse will score me nothing but bodily restraints and a high-pressure hose full of Debrox.

And that kind of therapy would only cut into my blog writing time.

MVD said...

"Don't think the Debrox will take care of that."

Unless, Jen, the Debrox was used as some kind of carrot-and-stick torture aimed at hubby. Start slow by wiping it on his iPod earbuds.

MVD said...

“Perhaps you could get together with Andy Dufresne of "Shawshank" fame and carve out a chess set.”

Excellent idea, Chris. By then, Madame Tussaud might even take interest.

MVD said...

Hey Ron - I hadn't been aware of ear coning:

"Ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal."

Sounds like an interesting gag for a kid's birthday party, or a Marx Brothers routine taken to the next level.

Pearl said...

Oh, don't you worry. You're still special.
:-)

Reminds me of how my cousin got eyeglasses like the bottoms of Coke bottles in first grade. Her father had told her how pretty she looked in sunglasses, so she failed her sight test on purpose.

Pearl

bluntdelivery said...

MVD...

fine you dirty bastard. truce?

MVD said...

Welcome, Pearl - I suppose we can all relate to your cousin's first grade optical issues. In certain lighting, that big "E" can be tough to make out.

Hope to see you slumming in this low-rent district soon!

MVD said...

OK, Brit, I will step out of my side of the sandbox first without kicking a final dusting on you. Since we're now in a truce, I'll assume you'll refrain from shoving your boot up my ass while I gather the toys.

Theresa said...

Never had that problem (not saying that I didn't have problems, just not that one). The reason why...my mother. My mother's Japanese and in Japan they don't have Q-tips. Oh no, they have these wooden sticks with a little spoon at the end. Every other day I would lay my head on my mother's lap and she would spoon out any wax build-up. After reading your story maybe I should be glad she brought that method to America.

MVD said...

Oh, those resourceful Japanese, always one step ahead of the white man in devising workable (and reliable) mechanisms. Unfortunately, because my wax production was firing on overdrive, I'd have needed an ice cream scooper rather than the wooden demitasse spoons used on you.

It's tough to fit an ice cream scooper inside one's head without risking major injury to the body.

Suldog said...

You have an amazing way with words. It's no mean feat stringing together so many ten-dollar multi-syllabic beasts and keeping the humor intact. I am increasingly in awe with each return visit.

MVD said...

Thanks, Suldog - You'd think I'd be a champion Scrabble player, but alas, 'tis not the case. That said, I'm untouchable when it comes to finding the 50 cent words in Boggle.

Out-Numbered said...

Dude. Awesome post as usual but I have to say I just noticed that thumbnail of you licking the ice cream. Now that's Hot! My eyes are burning.

MVD said...

"I just noticed that thumbnail of you licking the ice cream."

Funny, no less than eight hours ago, a friend told me to change the thumbnail, claiming that I looked retarded ... as in, mentally impaired.

But if you're intent on pleasuring yourself to my likeness, please do it quietly. I need not be informed of your pathway into Hell.

Chrissy said...

Your poor parents. I never had problems with wax as a child but I did in my 20's. The doctor put some solution in my ears and then made me sit in the waiting room until they cleaned them out with a Water Pik. Odd feeling. "Do you want to see it?" You know I did...

MVD said...

Hey Chrissy - Like slowing down for a car crash, that curiosity factor usually gets the better of us. One of my good friends was so intrigued with watching her colonoscopy, that she devoted an entire dinner to giving anyone within earshot a play-by-play.

Matt Shea said...

Mike, your problems of ear wax are so well rendered I just pushed away my bowl of porridge. Personally, I never had a problem with ear wax, but with the 'kind of' anonymity that the internet provides I have absolutely no problem in admitting that as a small child I produced an inordinate amount of snot, leading to a skilled and secretive prospecting operation by the time I was six. Thankfully, the problem mended itself a couple of years later and I could shutdown the whole mining operation, but not before I had developed the skillful habit of flicking my nuggets at the girls in class.

MVD said...

Well, Matt, some pull bra straps, some tease relentlessly, and others flick nuggets of mucous. If only women would understand the mating calls of great men, we could continue these tricks well into adulthood.

Anonymous said...

I pulled bra straps. Beth Weissman 8th grade. She hated me. I don't blame her.

Jp

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