When I was around twenty-five, I noticed my hearing wasn’t what it used to be and visited and audiologist. 

“Were you in the service?” he asked me after conducting a hearing test. 

“No,” I said. “Why?” 

“You have the kind of hearing loss people get when they’re exposed to loud noises like gunfire and explosions.”

“I’ve fired a gun like, twice in my life.” 

“Well, you’re going to need hearing aids by the time you’re fifty.” Since that ancient number was a quarter century away, I just laughed the audiologist off and went on with my life but, by the time I was forty, I had trouble hearing people in crowded places. At first, I blamed years working in noisy restaurants, but I knew who the real culprit was – years of concerts, nightclubs and using headphones to listen to loud music. I like feeling the beat in my cranium.

I would’ve benefitted from hearing aids back then, but I couldn’t bring myself to admitting I had an old person’s handicap, so I suffered, ironically enough, in silence. Then, two weeks after I got married, I developed tinnitus which sucks big time. When I told my new wife that it was the gods punishing me for giving up the bachelor life, she was not amused. Then, when I was fifty, I accompanied Annie to her twenty-fifth high school reunion which was catered at a private mansion complete with three bars, roasting alligators, pigs and two bands. The din was indescribable, and I couldn’t hear a word anyone was saying and unable to engage in conversation. I think all my wife’s high-school pals thought I was autistic. That was the last straw, and I booked an appointment with a hearing aid specialist the next day. 

“You’ve lost your ability to hear high frequency sounds,” she told me. “That’s why you have tinnitus.” 

“I have a lot of trouble with women’s voices,” I said. “Sometimes they freak out when I lean in close to listen to them.” 

“That’s very common.” Then she told me they had hearing aids that cost $3000, $4000, and $5000. Of course, I needed the priciest model. “Fuck that,” I told my wife. “And it’s not covered by insurance.”  But six months later, when I was commiserating with my dentist over my deafness he said, “Don’t be a dope. Go to Coscto.” So, I did and walked out with a pair of hearing aids for $1300. Bluetooth enabled, I could use them to talk on my phone, which led to some strange looks from people, but I could now follow conversations in noisy restaurants. I was also very careful to take care of my new discounted, but still expensive prosthetics. Then the pandemic hit.  

Just when we all started wearing masks, the elastic loops must’ve caught the device in my right ear and sent it flying into oblivion. Despite my wife and I tearing apart my office, home and retracing my steps we never found it. Luckily, Costco gave you one free replacement, but my wife was really, really pissed. “You have to take better care of your hearing aids!” she said. “They cost a lot of money!” When you’re married with a kid and a mortgage, money is kind of important so, I was very conscious when taking my mask off after that. But I’m also quite an absent minded fellow and misplaced them again several times – usually forgetting I left them on a desk, cabinet or in the cupholder of my car – which led to more frantic searches and Annie’s blood pressure spiking. She’s scary when she gets angry. Tired of being on the receiving end of Annie’s remonstrations, I forced myself to be more careful and, as a result, enjoyed a number of years free from my wife’s withering fury. Then disaster struck. 

Annie had to stay late for work and my daughter and I had fallen asleep in my bed with a menagerie of stuffed animals to keep us company. Waking up when Annie came home, I fed her warmed up leftovers and listened as she told me about her long day. Exhausted, I trudged back upstairs, carried Natalie to her bed, then went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Out of force of habit, I went to remove my hearing aids only to find they were no longer plugged into my ears. Not worried, I checked the dehumidifier I keep them in at night, but they weren’t there. Not panicking, I checked all the usual places I put them, but they weren’t there either. Oh shit. 

“I can’t find my hearing aids,” I told Annie.

“What! You lost them again?”

“Hey,” I said sheepishly, “It’s been ages since I’ve lost them.” 

“I don’t care! We have to find them!” 

So, instead of going to bed, Annie and I spent an hour searching our house – looking under furniture and emptying dresser drawers before moving on to my car, the driveway, and front and back lawns using flashlights. “Check the garbage,” Annie said. “The trash is getting picked up tomorrow.” Nasty but, overcoming my distaste, I went through several days of pickled garbage and coffee grounds, but no joy.

“Maybe I left them at work,” I said. 

“Go look,” Annie hissed. 

At midnight, I keyed my way into the municipal building where I work, conscious that all my movements were being surveilled by video camera. If the cops were wondering what I was doing there, they gave no sign. Coming up empty yet again, I went home, scared of the reception I’d face. “I’m afraid they’re gone,’ I said. 

“Great,” Annie said. “Another couple of thousand bucks out the window.” 

“They’ve got to be somewhere,” I said. “Let’s just sleep on it so we can look with new eyes tomorrow.” Of course, now I was getting the silent treatment, which is worse than when my wife yells at me. 

Hitting the shower to wash the fetid smell of garbage off my body, I felt guilty as I rinsed the stink away. While we’re far from poor, my wife and I have to watch our pennies like everyone else and new hearing aids would be a painful hit – especially since we’re now shelling it out for my daughter’s roller skating lessons. Feeling like an irresponsible shit, I got out of the shower, toweled off and went back to my bedroom, fully expecting to be banished to the couch. Instead, my wife greeted me at the door, holding my hearing aids in her hands. 

“Where’d you find them?” I exclaimed. 

In your daughter’s hair.” 


“When I went into her room,” Annie said, “I noticed she was almost falling out of bed and, when I moved her, I thought I saw a beetle in hair, but it was one of your hearing aids. So, I went through her hair and, sure enough, found the other.” 

“They must’ve fallen out when I was in bed with her.” 

“You have to be more careful.” 

My daughter has very long hair which she takes great pride in, always careful to brush it every night with Marsha Brady levels of OCD. I don’t think the kid’s had a haircut since she was five and, when she’s mad and hides behind her mane, she looks like Cousin It. 

“Thank god,” I said. “If she’d gone to school with them in her hair, they’d have been lost forever.” 

The next morning, I came downstairs to find my daughter brushing her hair before going to school. “Mommy said she found your hearing aids in my hair!’ she said, giggling. 

“You’re getting a haircut today!” I mock shouted. 

“No! You can’t cut my hair!’ 

“What? Are you like Sampson? If we cut your hair, you’ll lose all your strength?” 

“I like my hair long.” 

“Okay Cousin It.” 

“Whose Cousin It?” Fishing my smartphone out of my robe pocket, I showed Natalie a Googled picture

“I don’t look like that!” she cried. 

“Indeed, you do,” I said. “And if you don’t get a haircut, I’ll do it myself.” Then I made a pair of scissors out my fingers and proceeded to attack my daughter’s beautiful hair with natural highlights most women would kill for. 

“Cut it out, Daddy,” Natalie cried, laughing. 

“Yes! Yes! I will take all your hair and sell it for big money!” 


Patting my daughter on the head, I fetched her breakfast. Then, just before the school bus arrived, Natalie pulled me down and whispered into my ear. “I’m glad you found your hearing aids, Daddy. Mommy would be so mad.” 

“Honey, you ain’t kidding.” 

Lucky for me however, my little Cousin It saved the day. 

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