December 8, 2012

The audio portion

When I opened the door, there stood Edna, my nearly deaf elderly neighbor 
who lives alone on the ground floor. "I think my smoke alarm is going off," she 
said. My own hearing isn't what it used to be. But even with the hearing in my 
left ear half gone, I could hear the hypersonic squeal, a distant mosquito, from 
the second floor. It followed us to the elevator. Still audible as we approached 
her condo it didn't, oddly enough, seem to be growing louder.

Once inside I could still hear it... but still faintly. It was not the smoke detector. 

So where was it coming from? Some other condo? Somewhere in the 
neighborhood? A feebly dying appliance? I turned to Edna so that she could 
read my lips. There it was. The squeal. I moved in closer. It was coming from 
her hearing aid.

"It's coming from your hearing aid," I shouted. 


"I said it's coming from your hearing aid!" 

She dug it out of her ear, and the feedback bloomed like a sound check at a 

Grateful Dead concert.

She got it fixed... I'm not sure why. I suppose it's doing her some good. A few 

days later I was in the lobby talking to a neighbor when Edna came by to get 
her mail. I was telling Pete that I was going to Target to get a Christmas 
wreath. It was one of those uncanny breakthroughs that the hard-of-hearing 
have when you're talking low, to somebody else, about something of interest. 

"Would you mind if I come along?" Edna said. "I'll get my purse."