Camels in Virginia

The other day while coming home from running some errands, I was sitting in the left hand turn lane and waiting for the green arrow when I realized I was listening to the steady click of the turn signal.

That realization sent me down a rabbit hole of memory, and by the time I pulled into the garage, I was thinking, “Maybe I should write a blog about that,” and now I am.

In the early 2000’s, I kept telling my husband that he needed to stop mumbling. And I had to keep telling him to turn up the volume on the television set. (This was back in the old days when TV sets didn’t have closed captioning.) He told me I probably needed to get hearing aids. I told him I MOST CERTAINLY DID NOT NEED HEARING AIDS.

Then one fateful day in Tucson, we went to dinner with our daughter’s recently acquired in-laws in a noisy, hard surface Mexican restaurant. During the course of the meal, I overheard her father-in-law say something about “camels in Virginia.” I was taken aback, “Really,” I said aloud. “They have camels in Virginia?”

Her father-in-law looked as me as though I had just stepped off the moon and said, “I LEFT MY CAMERA IN VIRGINIA!” I was fitted with my first set of hearing aids shortly thereafter. And on our way home from the audiologist’s office, what was the first sound I noticed? The seemingly very noisy clicking of the turn signals. Turns out I hadn’t heard those for a very long time.

Why was I so reluctant to wear hearing aids? Vanity, I suppose. After all, wasn’t I too young to be wearing hearing aids? I may have been, but my ears weren’t.

And that’s what hearing my blinkers the other day reminded me of—of how reluctant I was to wear hearing aids. It turns out my hearing loss is far worse than Bill’s. And in rooms with hard surfaces it’s sometimes difficult for me to hear even with the hearing aids turn up to full volume. It’s one of the reasons I usually don’t take questions during book signings. I’m concerned that I’ll mishear the question and my answer will be truly bizarre.

But why am I writing this today? I suspect that out there among my blog readership there are people who are finding it necessary to nudge the volume control a little higher than they used to when they’re watching TV. People for whom, when they’re in a group gathering, find themselves missing out on big parts of the conversation.

If you’re that person, I’m writing this for you in order to spare you the humiliation of your very own Camels In Virginia moment. I’m suggesting that you get over yourself. You’re as old as you are, and so are your ears.

And yes, there are hearing aids that are seemingly impossibly expensive. They’re the ones that come with all the bells and whistles and can hook up to your phone. But it’s 2023 at the moment, folks. Just this year it became possible to purchase hearing aids over the counter without having to go through an audiologist. Those are much less expensive, but they do the basic job.

On that note, I’m going to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR. I’ll probably be in bed by the time people are ringing in the new year, and if the guy next door is setting off fireworks, it won’t bother me a bit, because my hearing aids will be on the bathroom counter by then, and I’ll be deaf as a post.