July 12, 2007

Hear This...

Make your kids read this article. Really. Run around the house chasing them with it. I know I will, if I can rip the headphones off my teenager's ears long enough to make him listen.

From the NYT, it's a piece about how baby boomers have lost their hearing because of all those stupid concerts we went to in our misguided youth. Remember towers of speakers, packed a storey high on both sides of the stage? Remember standing right in front of them? I do. Guess what? We blew our ears out.

For the performers, it's even worse. Most of the your favourite musicians are approaching stone deaf after years on the road. Hearing aids are a nice accessory for leather pants and a Fender stratocaster. That's a guitar, which I only know because my kid told me.

We used to sneak into grubby bars in Toronto to hear punk bands, which, well, if they weren't any good, it didn't matter. They made up for talent with noise. We'd leave with our ears ringing, screaming at each other we'd had a great time.

The problem is, hearing loss sets in years later. But instead of gramps needing the hearing boost, it's going to be us. We will pay dearly for becoming one with the music. I beg my sons to not crank those stupid little headphone ear thingees they wear, but I fear it would be like telling me to sit further back when I'd paid more money for my chair inside the speaker.

I know someone who's half deaf in one ear because a fire cracker went off next to it. He was the one who set it off, so it's hard to feel bad for him. But it was a 12 year old who set it off, and a 37 year old who's dealing with the consequences.

Anyone who's shouldered a rifle for hunting for any length of time probably experiences a little range loss as well. It's all the stuff we take for granted. Baby boomers being the self-absorbed bunch that they (we) are, I'm sure we're only inches away from designer hearing aids that people will start demanding whether they need them or not. But I'm still going to beg my kids to take care of their hearing.

I'm as blind as a damned bat, and losing another sense will have me just chucking it all and pulling on my Helen Keller t-shirt. But unlike love, which - I hear - is better to have had and then lost, I can't imagine not missing something I've taken for granted forever.

Come to think of it, that's how you lose love as well.


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