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Earful from an ear doctor

Because of something Dearest Duck said to me, I’ve chosen to begin with a snippet of verse that I’ve borrowed from Thomas Lux’s poem called “Poem in Thanks”. Here it is: “Lord, thank you for the goddamn birds singing.”

Here’s what Dearest Duck said: “Harry, my hard-of-hearing hunk...”

OK, p’raps she didn’t say “hunk,” but I thought she did because … well, because the first bit is true. Apparently … no, obviously … I’ve suffered hearing loss during my sojourn on this planet.

When I puffed up my chest in response to Dearest Duck’s remark, puffed up my chest and strained to tighten my pecs like a — I hoped — like a hunk, Dearest said, “What are you getting on about, you lunk?”

Or was it chunk?

Or possibly skunk?

You get the point. My hearing was no longer as sharp as it was when I first heard birdies sing.

Dearest Duck had been claiming for ages my hearing was, if not failing, faltering for sure.

“Harry,” she’d been saying, “you’re growing deaf.”

Or, “Harry, you’re mowing left.”

Or p’raps, “Harry, you’re going west.”

I denied doing any of those things and, behaving like the proverbial ostrich, responded, “I am not. You’re starting to mumble in your dotage.”

“It’s not me,” said Dearest Duck.

Or, “Want tea?”

Or p’raps, “We’ll see.”

I finally owned up to my condition when I realized I couldn’t hear the friggin’ birds twittering anymore.

It used to be that come dawn of a summer morning, the song birds living in the trees outside our bedroom window would chirrup and tweet and twiddly-trill and in general make such an insufferable racket that it was impossible to sleep any later than daylight.

“Noisy little buggers,” I cursed at sunrise.

“Harry, be quiet,” Dearest Duck said.

“Feathered, cackling cat food,” I swore.


Anyway, came a day shortly after I realized all the song birds had gone mute, that — hat in hand, so to speak — I took both my ears to the Auditory Assessment folks in The City, filled in a form and sat in a waiting room chair, Dearest Duck at my side.

Shortly, an Auditory Assessment Specialist — I s’pose — walked into the waiting room and stood smiling…smiling expectantly? Her lips were twitching anyway.

“That’s you,” said Dearest Duck, poking me in the ribs.

Trusting Dearest Duck, I followed the AAS [!] into a room containing an old-fashioned phone booth into which she ushered me, clamped a set of headphones on my ears and barred the door.

After that she communicated with me via the headphones.

“Mr. Walters,” she said. “Can you hear me?”

“What?” I said, just for badness.

After tweaking two or three dials, she tried again. “Mr. Walters, can you hear me now?”

“Loud and clear,” said I.

Then the AAS — God love ‘er — nearly deafened me by streaming various squealy noises in my noggin. She nodded her head each time I winced.

Then she blew windstorms into my ears and talked to me, seemingly troubled that I failed to understand a word she uttered.

“Humm,” she said. At least I figured that’s what she said. I didn’t hear her but her lips pursed in the shape of a Humm.

She made more adjustments to the dials and sliders on her AAC [Auditory Assessment Chummy] then announced we would play a word game.

“Mr. Walters, repeat after me,” she said.

“What?” I said. I couldn’t resist it.

“Mr. Walters,” said the AAS, meaning, “Stop your foolishness.” Dearest Duck would have been proud of her.

“Repeat after me…dream.”

Or cream.

Or p’raps team.

Or possibly even stream.

I took a guess.

The AAS nodded and made a check mark on a sheet of paper, a scorecard of sorts.

“Repeat after me … ice.”

Or was it mice?

Hopefully not lice.

I took a guess.

Nod. Check mark.

We played the word game until the AAS had checked off every one of three-dozen boxes on her tally sheet.

Then she released me from the phone booth and said, “Follow me.”

So I followed her into an office where she indicated that I sit.

So I sat…

… until she spoke very professionally from behind her desk. “Mr. Walters,” she said, “you need a couple of Hearing Enhancing Do-dads…”

Or some such.

I couldn’t quite hear her, but it wasn’t hard to figure out she meant hearing aids, eh b’ys?

Now-a-mornings when I rise at dawn — because those of my vintage need to — I hook on my HEDs [Hearing Enhancement Do-dads] and recite poetry:

“Lord, thank you for the goddamn birds singing.”

And thank you for reading.

Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at

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