Tuesday, September 15, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolution #27: Floss My Cochleae

This resolution is (roughly) to my ears what #25 was to my teeth. I aim to keep them and I'm trying to protect them.

A couple of years ago, Beth and I went to get our hearing checked. We each sat in a "soundproof" booth and had a series of beeps piped into our ears through a set of headphones. We indicated when we heard the beeps and in which ear. When we were done, the technician told us that she wished that everyone's hearing was as good as ours.

Beth, of course, thinks that I have hearing problems — or at least that I have listening problems. I think, instead, that I suffer from a bit of a delayed perceptual response.*

That is, I frequently miss the first one to three syllables when a silence is broken, as my mind needs at least a fraction of a second to boot up and go into listening mode. As such, I frequently miss the exact point of Beth's questions, and end up frustrating her with too many utterances of "what?" Inquiries and requests are indistinguishable without clarification. For example, "did you turn the oven off?" and "will you turn the oven off?" both come to me as "[cue to start listening] you turn the oven off?"

There is one obvious solution to this problem. It would be greatly amusing, but something tells me it's not going to happen: Beth could more completely embrace a manner of speaking that resembles that of Foghorn Leghorn. That is, she could start saying things like "would, I say, would you please run the dishwasher?"

Anyway, while my hearing is still good, even if my listening is more suspect, I've made my twenty-seventh New Year's Resolution of 02009:

I resolve to consistently wear protective ear plugs whenever I am running either the lawnmower or the snow thrower.

* I was going to use the phrase "slow brain syndrome", but I checked Google and discovered that SBS is an actual disorder, and [believe it or not] actually has something to do with tinnitus. I don't believe that I truly suffer from that particular disorder, so I chose to go with "delayed perceptual response", which is just a vague substitute, designed to not cause any confusion.


  1. Another option is to explain this problem to Beth, and ask her to try to get in the habit of prefacing all verbal communications with you (that break a silence) by speaking your name first - as in, "Louis, would you turn the oven off?" By the time she gets past your name, you're listening & won't miss anything, thus eliminating the need for her to (frustratingly, for both of you) repeat herself, since hearing one's name has an instant "listen up!" effect.

    On a side note, thank you for the heads-up on SBS; I didn't know about it. I know I suffer from tinnitus. (You're lucky you don't. It's not so bad when there's background noise, but some quiet nights, the silence is excruciatingly loud!). I also sometimes have trouble concentrating and sometimes, though not often, problems with balance, so maybe I also suffer from SBS. More research needed before deciding whether to consult with a medical expert.

  2. I was really hoping to muster some popular support for The Foghorn Leghorn Solution. [That would be an excellent name for a band, no?]

    But I'm glad if the SBS info is helpful (or even just educational).

  3. That's a very interesting New Year's resolution. Thanks for posting this.