Ed note – Man is this old. Really, really old. I don’t remember when this happened, but it was 8-10 years ago. Anyway, Jason Heyward is a Cub, and we’re all rightfully a bit bummed about that. So I’ve found the best way for people to get over stuff is to laugh at me.
And it’s related. Sightly. It’s about hearing! (I couldn’t find the actual final version, so you get this crap instead. Just for you!)
My dog’s ears won’t stop bleeding. It’s driving him insane.
I have been told by many people that my dog has something called ear mites, which are invisible little bugs that some how spontaneously show up in ears and feed off of, I don’t know, dog skin. You can’t ever see these bugs, and besides for a bunch of ear wax, they don’t exactly leave evidence that they are there. Regardless, there is a massive industry around them that results in many expensive products that are guaranteed to work, but don’t. I imagine if you were to call these products on their promise they would challenge you to show them an ear mite, which is of course impossible.
Something is wrong in my dogs skull though, and I realize that you are probably thinking that I should take him to a veterinarian or something like that. Well, that’s not going to happen. Veterinarians cost money. Money that could be spend on something more important, for example: extra dessert. If I were to take my dog to a vet, I would have to cut out some other expense, such as owning a dog.
Besides, the real problem here is that my dog is an idiot. His ears itch. He scratches them. His claws, sharpened from hours of laying on a mattress, eventually cut his ears. He feels pain. He yelps. He decides the best way to deal with this problem is to scratch his ears. When he shakes his head the blood spatters make it seem like a reenactment of “A Weekend at O.J.’s.”
I have tried helping him with his claws. I tried walking him on concrete, until I discovered that I really hated walking. I tried buying him special doggy nail clippers, which he refused to allow me to use. I then tried giving him slices of bread soaked in NyQuil (turns out it’s actually poisonous – something I looked up after the fact) which he happily ate down even though they glow such a bright shade of blue that you feel like you are in the movie “Avatar.” He certainly got sleepy, flopped around, and once fell off the bed, but he refused to keep his paws still. He also threw up. Blue.
I feel very guilty for this. Not because I haven’t been a good master. He sheds like a wildebeest and still eats, sleeps, and drools on my pillow under a fan all day. He is a very happy dog. No, I feel bad because his problems all stem from an over abundance of ear wax. I don’t know how one becomes more prone to waxy ears than others, but I have a feeling it’s a lifestyle thing. This is because I have always had trouble with my own wax accumulations.
For many years my old job required that I get a hearing test. This was because there would be occasional times, such as constantly, that the noise level would be at a level I like to call “the annoying car next to you at a red light that is vibrating your windows because they are awesome and apparently playing loud music gets them sex.” As you know, this is seriously loud.
The point is that every year I had to sit in a small booth and push a button every time I heard a tone. It’s was a thrilling time for everyone because we were told that for an hour we would get to miss work. It didn’t matter that the reality was we would be enclosed in a small place with a weird old woman looking at us and making demands that we had to follow or risk our job. It didn’t matter because it was still better than work. Especially if you are into that sort of thing.
How you take the test is as follows: You put on headphones, and you listen for a tone in one of your ears. You press a button corresponding to the ear in which you heard the tone. You are graded on how well you can actually hear. You know this. You don’t want to do badly. You find ways to cheat like by holding your breath because you had no idea how loud your breathing actually is. You panic if a few seconds have gone by without a tone. You press a button just because you think you probably should have. You concentrate far harder on this than anything else you have ever done, such as upholding safety standards at work, being completely sober while driving, or making sure she is in fact 18.
Well it seems my first test was what you would call a “baseline” test. In other words, no one really cares how you do. You could go in there and not hear anything at all, or you could go in there and hear voices telling you to burn the place down, and it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is what you hear in the future as compared to your original test. For example if you hear a voice say to you “Stab the old woman. Do it. Do it.” and next year you only hear “Stab the old woman. Do it.” they will conclude that your hearing has decreased by 25%, and that your current job no longer suits you and you need to be placed somewhere better for your ears, such as a mental institution.
I remember my baseline test fondly. I remember sitting in that booth determined that I was going to smite any sound that came my way. I was determined because I listen to this thing called “rock and roll” at a volume defined as “I need to scratch my ears with my claws because of the pain.” Therefore I really wanted a good hearing test. I wanted to show the world that my ear drums, with no thanks to me, could take on any noise and survive. I wanted to prove I hadn’t ruined myself at such a young age. I wanted the entire world to hear this, if in fact, their hearing was as good as mine.
Well I can’t even express to you how proud I was when I was told that I had average hearing. Average hearing? Everything else about me is below average at best! Average hearing? This is too good to be true!
Of course, this really put me in a bind when the next years hearing test came around. I had focused myself to do as well as possible, and now I’d be measured against that forever. I can’t explain why I did it. Maybe I thought I’d surely die, or this hearing test thing was just a fad that would pass, or maybe I’m just an idiot. I don’t know. What I do know was that for this years test I had a definite feeling of dread.
I took the hearing test on an excruciatingly hot day when i had only about 4 hours of sleep the night before. I was exhausted and the air conditioning felt amazing. I could have fallen asleep right there. The lady, yes the same lady as before, could see this in me and told me I needed to go have sex for a typical amount of time. No, I’m sorry. I accidentally reversed my euphemisms. She told me I needed to go inside for about a minute.
As such, I went into the small booth and proceeded to hit the button. I focused as well as I could, thinking maybe I was doing at least an average job, maybe even better, when suddenly the woman opened the door to the booth.
“Can you hear anything?”
That’s not a great thing to be asked when you are half way through the test.
I could hear the beeps. It’s just that, you see, you have to click this little plastic button. Apparently, this is not a strong suit of mine. Of all the thousands of people that have been tested in this booth, with this clicker, I must have had the weakest clicking thumb of all. My clicks weren’t registering. I pictured all of the little kids and all of the weak old people that don’t drink milk and thus have crumbling bones, happily clicking along and then there was me, having to start the test over, wondering if I would be able to click the button hard enough the next time.
Well the next time I clicked that button, and clicked it hard. but I was on only a few hours of sleep and quickly became fatigued and then…and I can’t even explain how this happened…I drifted off. I have a vivid memory of snapping awake and realizing I hadn’t hit the button in some time and then I started rapidly clicking away as fast as I could to see if I could catch up. I couldn’t.
When the hearing test ended the lady informed me that my hearing abilities had dropped substantially in low tones in my right ears. As in, I couldn’t hear them at all. For those that are confused, apparently the lady felt I was just fine at listening to a high pitched sound, such as a penny whistle, but I was hopeless at listening to a lower pitched sounds, such as the big bang.
Now you might think this was a weird oddity and had me do the test again right then and there, but this lady didn’t. She was too rational for that. She panicked and scheduled me another appointment at the local health clinic expressing to me that if I failed again I might have to leave my current job.
So much for fun sit in the booth day.
Therefore I had to take another hearing test. I showed up, gave my name, and was told to sit down, which for me, is always good news. But on the way to sit down I noticed there was a blood pressure machine. Now even though these things haven’t given me good results since I was 17 I can never resist their lure. So I sit down, press the start button, and then I hear the nurse call my name. And I have to yell to her from across the room that I can’t come because, much like a 6 year old, I had to play with the blood pressure machine and now my arm is stuck for the next two minutes.
Finally I find out from the blood pressure machine that I am in fact, nearing death, and proceed into the room. She directs me again into the booth, and then realizes that she forgot to check my ears for obstructions.
This is when I realize that we are going to have to get into a part of my life I’m not so proud of. I do believe I am in the top 10 all time producers of ear wax. I remember this one time when I was a teenager I was having my friend Josh spend the night. We were sitting their watching T.V. or something like that, and I had this sudden feeling of both clarity in my right ear, and the idea that a small creature was leaping out of my head. I reached down and I picked up, easily, the largest piece of ear wax that has ever been compiled.
Many months later I sent a picture to the Guiness Book of World Records, and their reply was that it was so huge that they were certain that it was a compilation of many peoples ear wax smashed together over the course of many years. It wasn’t. But I don’t blame them. There wasn’t any sort of logic that said that an object that big could actually fit out the hole of my ears. I remember staring at it and wondering how in the heck it possible came out at all. If some sort of medical abnormality happens, and I become pregnant, I hope that they extract the baby out of my ear canal. It certainly beats the alternative.
I remember showing it to Josh, and keeping it overnight. I had to throw it away the next day because Josh wanted to keep it for himself. I don’t have a lot of embarrassment over a lot of things. But I just couldn’t imagine letting my clump of ear wax go on display in Josh’s room as a way to impress girls.
Thus when the lady looked at my ears and concluded less than a millisecond later that they needed to be cleaned out, I wasn’t at all surprised. Yet, I knew that she would be.
She took me into this other room, which, while I didn’t see the name of the room itself, I would have to call it the “Community Room.” Because while this was something I would hope would be a private situation, in as much that an old woman would have to clean out my adult ears, people were walking in every few seconds to check x-rays, grab supplies, and, and I firmly believe this, be spectators to the legendary ear wax guy.
At first all she did was put drops in my ears to “break up the blockage.” Hey, no problem. This is exactly what I do all of the time to my dog, and unlike him I don’t freak out, drool, everywhere, and rub my head against every conceivable surface looking for a friend to remove the liquid. “Wow!” I thought to myself, “A few drops and the ear wax is gone! I have got to get me some of this!”
“I’ll be right back, I have to get the gun,” she said.
This is not what you hope to hear when going in for a hearing test. The gun, was in essence “a very expensive squirt gun” that the lady spent at least 15 minutes trying to set up, and not because it was complicated. This was hardly comforting considering she would be sticking this device deep into my ear canal.
Which she did, and she blasted hot water into my ear, which as you might expect, doesn’t hold a whole heck of a lot of water. Not to worry though, she had a plan for this which was a small curved tin tray that went next to my jaw that would capture every bit of water.
Which, it didn’t. Water went rushing down my shoulder and chest straight onto my crotch and then soaked the floor. I watched knowing that it would become clear to anyone who saw me later that day, that I had wet myself with an elephant’s bladder. It was so absurd had to start laughing and she informed me, “most people don’t find this funny.” I don’t know what this lady is doing right now, but I assume she is working for BP, putting little cups out there in the Gulf of Mexico and standing by puzzled as the oil rushes by right by and into the gulf’s crotch. (Ed-HOW DATED WAS THAT????)
She would pause from time to time in order to check my ears. This was always exciting because she would give me a play by play and make comments like “Wow! It’s really in there!” and, “Man is that packed in! I think it’s been in there for years!” I tried to tell her that if it HAD been in there for years, then it hadn’t affected my hearing test because it was surely in there last time. It was to no avail.
I think that probably one of the most annoying things about going swimming is when you have water lodged in your ears. As bad as that might be, this was somewhat worse in the sense that “Ivan the Terrible” is somewhat worse than a “puppy.” My ears were flooded with water to the point where I couldn’t hear a thing. Everything was completely muffled. “Now I really can’t hear,” I said. “That’s because there is water in your ears,” she said. You can’t make this stuff up.
Finally, there was progress, and she sat peering into my ear while hosing me down making various disgusted looking faces, and at times, jumping back from the horror that she saw. At other times, she actually got excited, shouting out things like “We’ve got a clumper!” Before that day, I didn’t realize there were ear wax terms. Battles waged on, and her commentary kept coming, “it’s right at the edge!” “I need to break that one in two!” “It must be an inch long!” “I need to let that one soak!” This was a real life video game for her.
I think that perhaps in the ear cleaning industry, this was the pinnacle of achievement, the one that many years from now, but not too many cause she’s old, she will remember as her moment of glory. This will be her greatest achievement. I might have even called this her finest hour except for the fact that it took well more than an hour.
In the end, which I knew was the end because she exclaimed “I can see the drum!” it was time to finally take my hearing test. I stood up and water poured off of me and all over the floor. I’m not sure, but I think I heard applause from the spectators behind me. She told me that she would start my test for me, and then had to go back to clean up the mess. I discovered at this moment that there are in fact side effects to having hot water shot at your brain for over an hour. I was so dizzy I could barely move. I was a bit concerned.
“I’m pretty dizzy” I said as I made a 90 degree turn and walked hard into the wall. Seriously. It was like being a cartoon character. My entire body just ended up flat against the wall like when Wile E Coyote slams into the side of a cliff. She didn’t seem to care. Maybe she didn’t hear me. Maybe I should boil water and pour it into her skull.
She started the hearing test and made the mistake of leaving. I was sitting in the booth, which was spinning like you wouldn’t believe, shocked that she left me in here. Finally, a bit of luck. With no one monitoring me I hit that button every time there was a chance that a sound was happening. I slammed it down with my thumb to be sure there was no mistake. I wanted this test to show that I now had the greatest ears of all time. The only thing I didn’t do inside of the booth, was actually hear a darn thing.
Suddenly into my right ear came a loud enough that I could actually hear it. I pushed the button. Then came another. I pushed the button. This went on and on and I soon realized that the test was over. Apparently the hearing test, which was a series of beeps, told you that it was over by playing you a series of beeps. Of course, this is normally O.K., but the lady wasn’t in the room. Instead she was cleaning up the hurricane in the next room. So I kept clicking and the machine kept beeping indefinitely with me way too scared to stop.
When she finally came in she looked at the paper and smiled. “Your hearing is nearly perfect,” she said. “Wow,” I said, “thank you so much.” knowing that my cheating would never be caught, unless of course, I was dumb enough to write an article about it. She beamed with pride as she printed out my official copy of my hearing test, which showed from top to bottom that my ears were wonderful.
And there at the bottom of the page, was the sentence that I knew would garner so much laughter when I turned it into my bosses. “Removed large clumps of cerumen from each ear.”
“That’s ear wax,” she whispered in hopes of not making the situation embarrassing for me.
I stumbled out and drove wildly back and sloshed my way back to work with an official document saying that I had fantastic hearing, that had been compromised by large clumps of ear wax.
That paper, and this is not a joke, now hangs on my parents fridge. They tell me they’ve never been prouder.