Growing older can be challenging. But viewing one’s diminishing capacities through the lens of humor can ease the transition from salad days to golden years. Though hearing loss is no fun to the loser, it can magically transform the world of said loser without the aid of controlled substances.
I discovered that magical power years ago when I asked my son if the Metal Ants were new rock group, since that’s what I thought I heard on the radio. After a moment of bewildered silence, he answered, “Mom, the Giants are playing at the Meadowlands!” I didn’t know whether he was laughing at me or with me, but no matter. I’d made someone laugh. Since my conscious efforts to be funny fell flat, I decided to let my subconscious take the lead. I’d view my hearing loss as a strength, enabling me to create unexpected connections and provide amusing commentary. Here are some examples, and I swear I’m not making them up.
When my husband said he was going into the orifice, I thought he was offering a clever description of his dental practice, until I realized that his intended destination was the “office.” Then there was the realtor who announced that futilities were included in the rent. Even when I realized he was referring to “utilities,” it struck me that for many tenants asking the landlord for more heat, new appliances, or lower rent, they were, in fact, engaging in futilities.
Sports have never made much sense to me, so when one of the Philadelphia Flyers made a cross-eyed pass, I didn’t think much of it. But when my husband explained that the announcer had said “cross-ice pass,” I was disappointed. The perception had far surpassed the reality.
To further world peace, our national leaders would do well to follow my lead. I once thought a newscaster announced that the US was going to launch an aerosol. The thought of the Pentagon spending billions developing a supersonic can of shaving cream was amusing (though somehow, not surprising). But the casualties resulting from an “aerosol” would be minor compared to those resulting from an “air assault.”
Then there were the Freudian slips. I worried about all those employees working in pubicles. Then a friend of mine told me she was having a crotch sale. Goodness, I thought, I didn’t realize those things went on sale. Who’d want to buy them? Doesn’t everyone already have at least one? Then I saw her putting tags on her lawn furniture for her “garage sale.”
Finally, my favorite one to date. I was at the Million Mom’s March in DC with my sister, and I told her I was going to repeat whatever I heard, regardless of how ridiculous, before asking her what they were really saying. For a while I was able to accurately echo the chants, but then I heard one that had me totally stumped. I could have sworn they were saying: “Women serve butter. Women serve rice.” I told her what I heard, and when she finally stopped laughing, she said they were chanting: “Women deserve better. Women deserve rights.” Personally, I like my version better.
I’m enjoying the slightly skewed version of the world that results from words bumping into each other in strange and unexpected ways. I try to keep this in mind as I feel strength and health diminishing and watch as time slowly rearranges my face. I don’t know whether Picasso laughed as he scrambled body parts on the canvas, but I’m having fun with auditory abstractions. You’ll have to excuse me, but it’s time to listen to a rebroadcast of “Carrot Talk” on NPR. I just love vegetables…oh, it’s “Car Talk”? Never mind.