In my building, I don’t need to have an alarm clock. My neighbors wake me up. This building was constructed in 1963, and has been through a number of earthquakes, most notably the Northridge Earthquake of 1994.
The result is that there are lots of invisible cracks that make surprisingly good pathways for sound. I can also hear the trash collectors coming down the alley, which I am sure wakes everybody else up, too, including the ex-Marine downstairs and the lady behind us with the dog—and, of course, the dog. Plus, everybody around here talks with everybody else, and loudly, and then there are the babies.
So it’s pretty noisy, especially in the morning, when you really would like to get in another half hour in the sack. Not only that, Whitley is noisy, and the harder he tries to be quiet, the noisier he gets. Books fall off his night table. His glasses drop behind the bed. He knocks over his lamp. It never ends. What’s worse, he imagines that he IS being quiet!
This is not because he’s deaf—he isn’t. But rather, because he only hears what he wants to hear.
Years ago, I got so frustrated with his not hearing me, that I sent him to an ear doctor. I expected him to come home with a hearing aid, but he came home with a diagnosis instead—MSDS. ‘What did the doctor say,’ I asked.
He told me that the doctor had explained that he had this syndrome. I asked him to please spell it out for me, expecting that there was some horrible disease involved. (I’ve written about this before. You can read that diary entry here.)
He said that it means ‘Male Selective Deafness Syndrome’. His hearing was fine, it seems. The only thing he couldn’t hear was my voice! It turns out that this is so common that ear doctors have a name for it.
Now he’s claiming that the noises outside are what prevent him from hearing me ask him to take out the garbage or get some coffee going. His dad had MSDS, too. He couldn’t hear my mother-in-law even when she was shouting—at least, as long as it involved a chore.
She solved the problem by lowering her voice. She thought it was the tone that he couldn’t hear. So when she asked him to take out the trash, she sounded like a foghorn.
It worked for her, but it doesn’t work for me. I’m thinking of trying a megaphone held at a distance of maybe six inches. Meanwhile, at least I have no trouble getting up the morning. Crashing lamps, noisy neighbors and worry about what’s going on with last night’s garbage, which is still in the kitchen—it works every time.
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