Right now, though, I'm in mourning over the death of half my hearing. I am, in other words, half deaf.
What this means is that in a room of ten or twelve people seated around a table for the purposes of discussion, I might catch about forty percent of what's being said and that's only true if the people in question are articulate, middle-class Americans from the Northeastern or Far Western parts of the country. I am incapable of comprehending anyone with a foreign accent, anyone who mutters, anyone whose voice is unusually nasal or high pitched and virtually anyone under the age of six.
Me: I'm sorry?
Me (taking a wild guess): Yes.
Me: No thanks, I don't want broth.
Speaking with children yields similar results. My oldest grandson used to be pleasantly (though somewhat loudly) audible. Since becoming a teenager, however, his mode of communication consists of aiming his words in the direction of his collarbone and talking in a low (usually sardonic) monotone.
My youngest grandson, aged six, communicates while jumping up and down, twirling and circling around the room and tugging at various articles of his clothing.
Me: Who's Canasta Pete?
Me: Nome's in Alaska, not in Hungary.
You are perhaps wondering whether I wear hearing aids. I did briefly but now I do not. You see, the thing about hearing aids is that they are expensive -- $2,000 to $7,000. Medicare does not cover them -- understandably, since being able to hear is clearly a luxury and not essential to one's quality of life.
Before I went into retirement and relative poverty, I did purchase a pair of hearing aids for $3,000. They continually malfunctioned and had to be sent back to the factory over and over again. Finally, I lost one of them after yanking it out of my ear in frustration because it had -- once again -- gone dead. Needless to say, this happened after the warranty had expired.
So much for hearing aids...