May 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Hearing Returns to My Ears, and It’s a Good Thing

So I passed the sign in Costco listing the price of their hearing aids like a hundred times.

Hearing aids.

These very words trigger an old guy in a creaky wheelchair holding up an old-fashioned horn to his ear asking, “Eh?”

I’ve seen some of my older family members, friends and colleagues wearing some sort of hearing aid device.

And at the same time, I heard myself asking “What?” to my wife and children over and over again. Sometimes I actually heard what Lisa, my wife, had said, and still I automatically responded with “What?”

When I would be learning, I’d ask my chavrutah to repeat what he said so many times, I think we technically did the same masechta twice.

I remember a TV commercial of an older couple watching a movie and the husband asking in frustration to his wife what had been said on the screen.

In this day of binging on Netflix and Amazon Prime, Lisa and I have spent a bit more time in front of a home screen. But I was becoming the guy I saw in the TV commercial, constantly asking what had been said. As the person who put himself “in charge” of the TV remote clicker, I’ve been asked by Lisa over and over again to lower the volume, told it was too loud. When she’d leave the room, I’d turn it up again.

The final straw came in the classroom, teaching my Jewish history high school students. I think they were getting used to having me ask them to “say it again” when it came to their important classroom talking points.

Even coaching first base for my high school’s varsity baseball team, when the runner asked me quietly to go over the steal signs with him, I had to overly focus so that the nearby first baseman couldn’t hear our discussion.

So I don’t know why, but I could never see myself wearing hearing aids. I mean I’m looking at 65 and words like Medicare straight in the eye. Speaking of eyes, my glasses prescription has also changed. But that’s another story.

I mean William Shatner, also known as Captain James Kirk, was able to boldly go where no man has gone before, and he wears hearing aids. So does former President Bill Clinton and TV star Whoopi Goldberg and the Who’s lead singer Pete Townsend. I even hit Google to see who else was wearing hearing aids like I needed society’s permission somehow.

On a fateful recent day, I got fitted for the hearing aids, yes at Costco. This was after a hearing test from a private audiologist, who is also a personal friend. He said, “Phil, would you get the hearing aids already?”

They are in my ears as I write this now. I told the audiologist that I could hear my hair rustle. I heard some words of a song on the Broadway station of Sirius that I had never heard before. And for my false sense of vanity, these hearing aids aren’t so visible if one doesn’t know that they are there. Yes, I’ve run out of the house without them from time to time, and my wife will ask me constantly, “Do you have your ears in?”

Best thing, though. I don’t feel like an old guy. I can actually hear. And that’s young, not old.

However, now when I come home from shul or a shiur and Lisa asks me what the rav or speaker gave over, I better have a full report.

“I couldn’t hear him” doesn’t work any longer.

By Phil Jacobs

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