Benchmarks, life's mile markers or lines of demarcation, are mostly positive reminders of goals attained or problems solved. We all recall the first kiss, making a team, getting our driver's license, marriages, and the passing of loved ones and friends. As we age those benchmarks tend to be more negative than positive. A doctor tells us to lose weight, major medical problems surface and we notice there are suddenly activities we can no longer perform. Our bodies wear out in spite of exercise, vitamins, the elimination of bad habits and our own sheer will power. In other words, it's a short ride from the halleluiah to the hoot.
"You don't have to shout!", my mother would exclaim when everyone clearly had to do just that in order for her to hear a word being said. She stubbornly refused to even consider hearing aids well into her eighties because "they were for old people". Time and again my brother and I would explain that hearing aids were no different than wearing glasses, but she just couldn't make the leap. Now, I think she may have had a point.
This coming Monday, at age 72, I pick-up my new hearing aids. Granted, they're far less obvious than those bulky contraptions of old but there is still no getting past the idea that the "old guy" just got his foot a little further inside my door. Damn! What's next? A walker and a lifetime supply of Metamucil?
I blame the #%$*&! Chinese and their stupid Covid virus. Until the whole "let's all wear masks and look like we're sticking up a bank" sartorial movement, I feined being in on conversations by becoming a master lip reader. Of course, I didn't know this until there were no lips to read. I was lost in a sea of masks and mumbles. That all ends Monday.
I can't say I didn't see it coming. Forty years of wearing headphones that blasted screaming guitars and car commercials at me for four hours a day with the volume cranked up to mach 1 probably didn't do my acoustic receptors any good, but it sure beat working for a living. When radio was good, it was great; there was no better place to be.
These days, having retired to the relative quiet of northern Idaho, it'll be interesting to test drive these new hearing aids. I'm told I'll hear things I haven't heard in a long time. (Maybe some of them I won't want to hear!) I do know that there will be one appreciative blonde lady with younger far less abused ears who won't have to leave the room because the TV is too loud. For her, I'm glad to do it. She's worth it.
So, another benchmark noted in a life filled with mostly good ones. With these new aids, I hope to enjoy a return to the hearing of my youth, or at least a reasonable facsimile. (What's next, a resumption of my athletic career? Oh, wait, that never happened.) I anticipate positive developments but do plan to remove the damn things when the news is on. Why risk my sanity? I'm getting too old for that!