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I'm not sure if I can hear you

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?

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a shirtless teenager named "Chico" just gave me his phone number

Because I went upstairs wearing sweatpants, socks and a nightgown with a coat thrown hastily over the ensemble to have a word or two with my incredibly loud upstairs neighbor whose mom is away, hence the parties which I’m fairly sure involve drugs and which are quite loud and are driving me nuts. I’m sure of the drugs because the last time I went up there to see if they could possibly not yell at 4 in the morning, the girl who lives there, who’s apparently now consorting with “Chico” said she was just “about to blaze” and wanted to know if I wanted to join. I said no, I just wanted to sleep. Another time she showed up at my door at 10am wanting to know if she could climb through my window because she’d locked herself out of her apartment and she knew of some way to shimmy up the fire escape and into her own bedroom. Cleary she’d done it before when I wasn’t unfortunate enough to live here, back in the days when I lived in an apartment with a dishwasher and doorman and central air and heat and life was good. Have I mentioned I hate this little apartment urchin? I think she’s lived here forever, and at some point tragedy befell the family, and so people put up with her even though it’s well known she’s loud and horrible to live under. Plus: the window shimmying.

So tonight at first inklings of ruckus I shot up there and rang the doorbell. Shirtless be-necklaced “Chico” answered the door, in mid-sizzle (Chico cooks omelettes apparently) and seemed to know before I even opened my mouth what I was coming up about, probably from the look of “I’m going to kill you, I am way too old for this bullshit” on my face. Naturally I softened though, because he looked kind of frightened. We shook hands. I asked if there was a number I could call when they’re too loud so I don’t have to bang on the ceiling with a broom like the unpleasant old lady I’m becoming. He gave me his number. He admitted that he definitely heard the broom racket last night, which begs the question why they didn’t shut the hell up, but whatever. Perhaps he thought I was offering collaborative percussion. Basically I wanted his phone number so I don’t have to call the cops, which I will so totally do, and I wish I’d mentioned that. Apartment urchin was in the shower. I would have preferred her number, but at least now if I want to buy drugs, I’m pretty sure Chico can hook me up (Note: I don’t want to buy drugs. I want to go to sleep.)

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