I went to see my doctor on Friday. I had noticed something unusual just inside my ears. Both ears. There seemed to be growths of skin blocking the ear canal. They were like flaps that occasionally closed the ear completely resulting in a total, if temporary, loss of hearing.
She took a look, then shone a light down them from a stainless steel looking pointy thing, and took another look and said,”Hmmm,” the way that doctors do.
She said: “How unusual!”
“I’m going to try something,” she said.
“OK, feel free.”
She walked over to the bookcase in the corner of her surgery and ran her finger along the spines of books on the top shelf. They were medical text books. She selected one and returned to her seat behind her desk. She opened the book, seemingly at random, and started reading from it, aloud.
I gathered, as she read, that the subject was the endocrine gland, the hormones it produced, and the associated chemistry. It wasn’t very interesting but I sat obediently and, to the unobservant, listening intently. She continued reading. After 5 minutes I became irritated and felt my attention wandering but, being overly socialised and therefore tiresomely polite, resisted the urge to interrupt her.
She droned on and I felt something moving in my ears. Her voice grew fainter until it faded away completely. I was deaf.
She looked up and mouthed: “Can you hear me?”
I shook my head and replied, rather loudly she observed later: “Not a thing.”
She stopped reading and strode around her desk to peer down both my ears with the stainless steel pointy thing. I felt my hearing return.
“Can you hear me now, Mr Taylor?”
“I can, thank you, Doctor. Most strange, eh?”
She returned to her chair and looked at me, sympathetically, I thought.
“You lead a very boring life, don’t you?”
“How did you know?
“You’re married to a very boring woman, aren’t you?”
“Tell me about it,” i replied, making use of a modern idiom. “41 years.”
“She talks a lot?”
“I’m thinking you try not to listen?”
“I try… but, I mean…Doc… 41 years of it!”
“Hmmm,” she said again, the way doctors do. “Your body has come up with its own solution. It has grown earlids that shut off your hearing in the presence of prolonged boring talk. Much like I just made you experience by reading a section of that medical book.”
I was flabbergasted and sat quietly, contemplating my ears. And my marriage.
“Do I need an operation, doctor?”
She laughed. “Not at all, Mr Taylor. Your earlids are keeping you sane and means there’s no need for me to prescribe earplugs for you. Just don’t mention them to your wife.”
“You mean, keep quiet about them?”
“Exactly, Mr Taylor.”