MONKEY THINK, MONKEY WRITE | Technological advances have made life worthwhile

The people have spoken.

What did they say?

I wasn’t listening.

All my life, I thought I had excellent hearing. Then I got married, and discovered the full extent of my hearing loss.

Not a week goes by without the Little Missuss bringing it up. She’ll be talking about some vitally important issue affecting the fate of the nation, and I will give the customary “Uh-huh, uh-huh” that is traditional in Western male culture, and she then will eventually say, “Are you even listening?”

“What? Listening to what?” I’ll reply.

I swear, I have used that joke more than a dozen times and it still gets me in trouble.

You ever hear about someone being born ahead of their time? Not me. It turns out I was born at exactly the right minute. That’s because advances in technology are starting to make life worthwhile for folks like me who have fading hearing abilities.

I thought about this the other night when I saw a TV commercial for the 97th time for the “Listen Up Personal Sound Amplifier.” Perhaps you have seen the commercial. It features an elderly couple, and the male half of the duo is sitting up in bed watching a late-night comedy show when the cranky half of the marital unit rolls over and screeches, “Does that have to be so loud?”

The man grimaces, and astute viewers can see his soul slip out of his body if they watch closely.

His problems are solved, of course, when he purchases the Listen Up Personal Sound Amplifier. His quality of life improves, it is clear in the last part of the commercial, because he can hear Jay Leno read wacky headlines as his wife sleeps, and he no longer has to sit in the front pew at church anymore. His wife also has her own Listen Up Personal Sound Amplifier, so she can listen to the neighbors across the street talk about her.

I’m old enough to remember when people had to suffer through life without amazing advances in technology.

Back in Olden Times, there were only two things someone could do if they couldn’t hear. The first was leaning forward. The second, saying, “Hey, speak up!”

There have been all sorts of scientific breakthroughs in the past few decades. Remember when air bags could only be found at high school reunions?

Remember when call waiting was something that only unpopular girls knew about?

Remember when cell phones first became a status symbol?

I remember when everyone was embarrassed to use a cell phone.

“Hey, Johnny, is that you?”

“What’s going on? The reception is terrible; I can barely hear you.”

“Yeah, I’m on a cell phone. Hey, can you get $200 together and come down to the courthouse tomorrow? I’m in a bit of a jam.”

“Wow, this reception is really bad. What did you say?”

I wouldn’t feel so bad about my bad hearing, but the Little Missuss says my eyesight is going, too.

“Can’t you see the cat’s litter box needs scooping?” she’ll ask.

“We have a litter box?” I’ll ask. “I didn’t even know we had a cat.”

Next time: Chapter and verse.

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