Now Hear This

I had my hearing tested recently and this week I got my new hearing aids. My wife has been bugging me to do this for a long time. I heard her, but I wasn’t really listening.

Hearing loss runs in my family. My grandmother was born nearly deaf. When she finally got hearing aids in the 1950s, they did little more than raise volume, which is seldom of much help. “Don’t speak LOUDER,” she would tell everyone. “Speak s l o w e r.”  But Mum-Mum (that’s what we called her) had selective hearing. At dinner she would constantly ask each of us to repeat things. But when she said something to annoy my father, he’d whisper under his breath to my mother, “What a pain in the butt Mildred is tonight.” Then Mum-Mum would glare at him and say: “You’re a pain the butt, too.”

When I give a presentation about humor, I tell this joke:

A man reports to his doctor that his wife is hard of hearing but is in denial. The doctor tells him to go home and see how close he has to get to her for her to hear him. That night, he calls from the front door: “I’m home, honey. What’s for dinner?” No response, so he tries calling from every room “Honey I’m home. What’s for dinner.” Nothing. It’s worse than he thought. Finally, he goes in the kitchen and screams near her ear. “HONEY, I’M HOME. WHAT’S FOR DINNER?”


This joke is particularly funny to older women with stubborn hubbies who refuse to face reality about their hearing, claiming the loss is just a part of aging and nothing can be done about it. That’s kind of what I did. This week was an eye opener, if you’ll excuse a mixed metaphor. Here’s what I discovered…

The turn signal makes a clicking noise when you hit the lever.

Leaves do rustle when you step on them.

At night, rain on the roof can wake you up.

I’m kidding with that list, of course. My hearing loss was moderate and easily corrected with the appropriate devices. For people with severe hearing loss, it is devastating and life altering.  Helen Keller once said, “If you are blind, you are cut off from things. If you are deaf, you are cut off from people.”

I did a story on WISH-TV was about a racecar driver born deaf. He had never experiences the roar of the engines—or the roar of the crowd, for that matter.  He was about to have a surgical procedure to repair the congenital defect that prevented him from hearing. After the operation, I took a camera crew to tape his first trip back to the track so he could watch (and hear) trials at the Indy 500. Oh, the expression on his face that afternoon.

For the last week or so, I have been bragging to everyone about how great these hearing aids are. I took one out of my ear and showed it to my friend Bob.

“What kind is it?” he asked.

“About 4:30,” I told him.

It was a very old joke, but I’ve waited my whole life to find a way to use it.

p.s. Did you know bacon makes a sizzling noise when you fry it?

Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@