This is the second part in a series, so if you have not done so already, you might want to read Part I before continuing.
The woman’s questions at the pet supply store had gotten Ben thinking about things he hadn’t thought about in a long time. The truth was he had lost his hearing so gradually that, at first, he hadn’t even really noticed it. It had started with everything starting to sound a little muffled. He hadn’t thought anything of it at first and had ignored it.
“Jesus, Ben! Do you think you could turn the TV up a little louder?”
Ben pushed the upward-facing button on the TV’s volume control, only to find out that, no, in fact, he could not turn it up any louder. It was maxed out.
“Sorry, honey, I can’t. It might be time to for a new TV.”
She looked at him like he had just suggested a trip to the moon. “I was joking. You’re blasting that thing.”
“Yes. Can’t you hear it?”
Ben frowned at the TV, then at the the remote. “I can hear most of it.”
“Most of it? That’s it, you’re going to the doctor.”
“I’m sick of screaming at you every time I want to have a conversation, and I don’t want the neighbors banging down our door every time we want to watch TV because we have the volume up so high it’s knocking things off their walls.”
“It’s not that loud.”
Naomi stared at him, eyes wide, then took the remote from his hand and tried to increase the volume, showing him again the “100” at the bottom of the screen that indicated the volume was as high as it could go.
“All right, all right, I’ll make an appointment.”
“Yes ma’am.” He even saluted her, which was supposed to be his way of mocking her, but she kind of liked it, so it didn’t have the intended effect. Instead of a passive-aggressive dig at her authoritative manner, it had become an inside joke between them. Now, when he saluted, she laughed and raised one shoulder to her chin in mock modesty and they both laughed.
But Ben didn’t stop thinking about what she had said. He remembered asking Naomi to speak up when they were talking. Then he tried remembering the last time he hadn’t asked her to speak up. He couldn’t.
He’d always blamed it on noisy things that were going on around them: traffic, construction, the running water of the sink if one of them was washing dishes. But even when there was little or no ambient noise, he found it difficult to hear everything she said. He tried to pretend that wasn’t the case, but it was, and the TV proved it.
Stupid TV. Who made a TV with the volume so low no one could hear it?
Nevertheless, the whole thing made Ben nervous enough that he called his doctor first thing the next morning and made an appointment.
To be continued…