Month: December 2018

Bang the (Droopy Ear) Drum Slowly

It’s rare, in my limited experience, to fail a hearing test and to insult a rockstar in the space of a single day. But I achieved both of these ignoble feats just yesterday.

Ignoble Feat #1: My right ear cannot detect low rumblings. This would be a good thing, if by “low rumblings” I meant the kind uttered by my 13 year-old son when he spies the dreaded–but healthy, damnit, so healthy–purple mashed cauliflower on his dinner plate. I really wish I were deaf to those complaints. Alas, my aural shortcoming is of the decibel- and frequency-detecting variety. Despite my best attempts, dizzy from holding my breath in that vaguely claustrophobic, carpeted room that felt like something in a life-sized in a doll house, I could not for the life of me pick up a series of beeps in the lower register. At least not with my right ear. At least that is what I was told afterwards. I couldn’t actually hear the beeps, so how do I really know the beeps existed? I mean, if a beep beeps but nobody hears it….

Turns out I have something called a “droopy eardrum.” I blushed a little when the ear doctor spoke these words. As if I had failed to do something. Let myself go. Ignored some age-old advice about life from an elderly relative somewhere down the line. “Laddy, whatever you do, keep up them firm eardrums, don’t let ’em droop.” I’m still a bit confused about the condition. Whether it is here to stay for as long as I am here to stay. Or maybe I should try acupuncture. Maybe, but I don’t like the sound of, “Hi, I’m here to see the acupuncturist about my droopy eardrum.” And I also don’t like the words “puncture” and “eardrum” to sit in such close proximity. God I love this getting older thing.

Ignoble Feat #2: I cursed a bonafide rockstar last night. I don’t know if he heard me, but I definitely swore at him. The drummer for Metallica. He made the mistake of double-parking his SUV just behind my little Prius at the bus stop in such a way that his headlights shone brightly in my eyes. With my hearing now apparently shot, this behavior eliminated my sight, effectively leaving me with only a couple senses remaining. And I didn’t think I could rely on my sense of smell to ascertain whether the school bus had pulled up a block behind me. “Diesel fuel. Is that diesel fuel?” Nor did I fancy the prospect of crawling on my hands and knees along the darkened side street, searching with my outstretched fingers for a bus wheel or for my 13 year-old’s Nikes as he hopped onto the sidewalk along with his schoolmates who are probably also wearing Nikes.

So I was piqued. A little irritated, when I stepped out of my Prius and muttered (another low rumbling?), “Thanks for the high beams, jackass” in the direction of the SUV’s silhouetted and therefore anonymous driver. Making no attempt to hide my agitation.

When I returned to my car with my son and his Nikes in-tow, I glanced up to see Lars Ullrich, Metallica’s drummer, engaged in a genuinely charming display of domesticity, piling a couple mussed-haired kiddos into his SUV. I think he was even doing someone a favor, picking up another family’s child at the late bus stop. We made eye contact. I froze a little as Lars looked up and he said, pleasant as pleasant can be, “Hey,” before closing his hatchback like an outstanding dad and upstanding citizen.

Fortunately, he used his upper register with this casual greeting. Had he spoken in a lower voice, the remaining strain of adrenaline coursing through my veins would have combined with my newfound inability to hear what he actually said. I would likely have assumed that Lars lobbed a proportionately responsive invective in my direction. Met fire with fire. Jackass with jackass. God knows what would have happened, but for sure we both would have ended up in the newspapers. “Droopy-Eared Dad Pounded by Drummer in School Bus Stop Altercation.” That type-thing.

Fortunately, I heard Lars right, and I responded appropriately, with a quick “Hey, how you doin’?” Shuffling toward my Prius, I really really really hoped he hadn’t heard me call him a jackass 30 seconds ago. I briefly considered walking right past my parked Prius, to eliminate any supposition that I was its driver. Jackass? Who said anything about a jackass?

Or maybe I could fall back on my deafness, blame the whole thing on some sort of misunderstanding brought on by foolishly letting myself go in regards to the shape of my right eardrum. Probably Lars would have said something about how you should always wear earplugs. Maybe he would vouch for the acupuncture or tell me to steer clear of it altogether. I guess I’ll never know.

Regardless, Lars, please accept my humble apologies. The only jackass in our situation was the guy with the droopy eardrum. And he’d had quite a day.

Thanks for reading.

A Sleigh Full of Toys, and Satan too.

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Last night, my wife and I settled our brains for a long winter’s nap (though she wore no kerchief and I wore no cap).  Then on the bedside iPhone, there arose such a clatter. Shortly before dawn, one son called unexpectedly, his parents bolt upright, and ask what’s the matter.  Away through the garage, my wife flew in a flash.  Our dog was whining. If we waited any longer, it’ll be more than just gas.  I heard our 7th grader shuffle to the shower, and thought “Uh oh.” Because I had no frickin’ idea where we’d hid his GoPro. 

Everett turned 13 today, you see. And we had to make him feel as though his parents are good parents.  Thoughtful parents. This despite the gobsmacking associated with now being the parents of two teenagers.  On top of the daily chaos around here. 

For weeks, we refused Everett’s outrageous demands that we purchase something supercilious. Wreaking of consumerism. Totally absent in third-world countries (from which neither my wife nor I came). And likely to trigger well-deserved childhood spankings in first world countries (from which both my wife and I came).  Perhaps we imagined knitting Everett a sweater. Or writing him a long letter filled with witticisms  regarding what we remember about being 13 year-olds. Life lessons. Perhaps an elaborately-choreographed birthday party with his buddies.  Maybe an aardvark or boa constrictor or koala bear from the zoo would be involved. Maybe they would not. (I don’t think our zoo has koala bears.) I had written up to-do lists on top of to-do lists with all sorts of bespoke, Rockwellian birthday gifts–nay, birthday experiences–we would bring to fruition this year. 

OK, so we got him the damned GoPro.

We never planned for Everett’s birthday to fall during the Holiday Season.  I’d like to point that out as one perfectly legitimate excuse for our annual failure properly to observe the passage of another year in Everett’s existence.

But then again, we don’t observe the Holidays very well, either, apparently.  Earlier this week, as I was making something truly fantastic and astoundingly healthy for his breakfast while half-listening to a news segment on KQED, Everett betrayed our family’s Holiday Ignorance. “Oh my God, they just mispronounced ‘Satanic’ as ‘Saintanick.'”  I don’t know what it says about me as a parent that Everett’s brain went right for “Satanic” instead of “St. Nick” as we sit here just a couple weeks from Christmas.  We have a Christmas tree in the living room.  Everett has seen it.  (Now you have, too.) I have been playing on repeat a 147-song “Beadling Xmas” Spotify playlist since the day after Thanksgiving.  Everett has heard it.  I know he has heard it because he has complained about it regularly.  Several times he has screamed at it from the other room, “Alexa! Pause! Off! Off!” We even have the stockings hung by the chimney, with care (more or less). 

And yet, Everett thinks Satan before Santa.  Satan before Saint Nicholas.  My son, raised in a den of devil-worshipping

And now, with this new, high-definition camera of his, we have unwittingly armed him with the means to record for posterity the pagan free-for-all evidently going down in our household. He is probably narrating an all-school presentation right now as I type. With full photographic, slow-motion, high-definition evidence of our shameful parenting.  I would like to think that I’m exaggerating on this score.  Come on, that’s ridiculous, right? We walked him to his bus stop like any other day, without the slightest hint that anything was amiss. By the time we cover those 2 blocks from our house to the gaggle of other moms and dads and kids and dogs, we are good parents once again. 

But I heard him exclaim, ere his school bus drove out of sight. “Happy Christmas to all, you’ll be visited by Child Services tonight!” 

Thanks for reading (oh, and Happy Birthday, buddy).