My parents have begun speaking in a volume that I’d put somewhere between a prairie dog burp and a mouse fart. Which is to say, I can’t hear them. The exception to this is in the morning when my mom is having an argument with Tobey. “Tobey, NO!” she’ll scream, the windows rattling. “Tobey, I said NO!” she’ll thunder. Then Tobey will bark a tiny bit and then I’ll stumble into the room groggy and confused and she’ll apologize if Tobey woke me up. Other than this one time of day it’s all hushed tones. At first I thought it was me and that somehow my hearing had been compromised on the flight. “Something wrong with your ears?” my mom would say as I cupped the sides of my head. “No thanks, I don’t like beer,” I’d answer. I was upset about going deaf but getting drunk wasn’t going to solve anything.
And so it went for a few days: my parents carrying on in a way audible only to dolphins, me wondering if I should get a manicure before learning sign language, until I stepped out of the house and was commended on my incredible hearing.
You see, all of my Costa Mesa friends used to play in bands and so their hearing is fairly terrible. “That alarm is going to drive me crazy,” I announced a couple days ago. “What alarm?” asked a friend in all seriousness. “Are you serious?” I asked, because I hadn’t read the previous sentence. He nodded and I shook my head in response. Then I clicked four times to indicate a boat on horizon. “There’s an alarm going off in the other room,” I explained. “It’s quiet but it’s been going off for about an hour.” He left to investigate. “Wow, that’s a frequency I no longer have,” he said upon returning. “That’s a shame… but you didn’t turn the alarm off,” I responded. Then I punched him. He never heard it coming.
And then I was at a party with two friends. “Wow, how can you hear that?” they asked when I said that one of the friend’s girlfriends was in the kitchen asking a question about guacamole. “I don’t know, I was convinced I was going deaf,” I said. Then they tried to claim that the reason I could hear and they couldn’t was because of angles and where I was sitting in proximity to the guacamole question versus where they were sitting. I’m not sure if they were right or not.
And… and now I can’t hear myself think because the paternal mouse farter is talking loudly on the phone. Do they just save up their volume for phone calls and yelling at Tobey? Or are they trying to gaslight me? I feel gaslit. Gaslighted? Gaslain?