Jim Taylor
Say What?
Monday, November 21, 2022, 06:32

I first noticed that the loss of hearing was getting bad among some of the SHOOTISTS at the Shootists Holiday in 1986. My Dad, Robert Smythe, and I drove up from Robert’s place in a motor home. It was not the quietest thing, but I did not think it was all that noisy. However, I noticed that Dad and Robert seemed not to hear each other correctly. Dad would say, "Robert, do you want me to make you a sandwich?" and Robert would reply, "No thanks, I’m comfortable sitting up here." Dad would say, "Cheese and what?" and Robert would say, "No, it’s not hot. I’m fine." Needless to say, the conversation kept me awake, but I’m sure Dad and Robert were wondering why I was laughing so much.

Since that time, I have watched The Shootists get together and things seem to be going downhill in the hearing department. Conversations get louder. You hear, "What’d you say?" more often. And "HUH?" seems to be the normal password anywhere. Now I know among married men nerve deafness increases as the years you are married increase. It is a mathematical progression. A man who has been married ten years is five times more nerve-deaf than a man who has been married for five years. This is a common phenomenon and is well-known among wives, having been passed down as a shared experience from mother to daughter for centuries. However, some of the non-married Shootists seem to be getting to where they don’t hear so well either! At the last Holiday I attended, I asked several of them for a small loan of $50 and they looked right at me and then walked away! I did not want to embarrass such young men by pointing out the obvious loss of hearing, so I did not question them again.

I have a theory that the whole world is getting to be a noisier place, causing everyone and everything to lose its hearing sensitivity. My dog can be setting 20 feet away and not hear me when I call him. It MUST be a nerve deafness, since he can hear certain sounds. Sounds like a candy bar being unwrapped or the refrigerator door being opened. He can hear that from across the pasture. But the tone of my voice he cannot hear al all, except for certain words like "EAT, FOOD, etc." My children do not hear me when I call them to come downstairs and pick up their clothes. They can hear a bag of potato chips being opened even though there is four feet of concrete between it and them.

But it does pain me to see a fine group like The Shootists succumb to this affliction. If it progresses on, ear trumpets will accompany everyone. In addition to buying primers, we will be stocking up on batteries for our hearing aids! Of course, you can be like my Dad and just deny the whole thing. He feels that if you ignore it, it will all just go away. Or never happen in the first place. He quit wondering years ago why the birds had quit singing and crickets had stopped chirping. He blamed it on DDT and has gone happily on his way!

Speaking of crickets reminds me. One night we had a cricket in the house that was about the loudest I had ever heard. While we have been plagued with crickets, usually they are not all that loud. This one was LOUD! And he had the oddest chirp. Not a "cree-deep, cree-deep, cree-deep", as they usually sing, but a "CHEEP!" – real loud and only once. He did that all night long. I got up about 6 A.M. determined to kill the sucker. I moved furniture and he’d chirp and then stop. I looked all over the living room, moved every box and piece of furniture and couldn’t find him. Every once in a while, he’d "CHEEP!" real loud. Finally my daughter came downstairs and asked what I was doing. I told her and she just stood there and pointed up on the wall over the door. Sure enough. There sat my smoke detector, letting me know the battery was getting low.

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