Last night, the spouse and I had a nice happy glow as I prepared to leave the office. We had just returned from the annual student field trip to the highlands, and despite the foul weather, all had gone well. The last task of the day had been dumping the mud-spattered administrative relics of the trip on to my very messy desk, before heading home to relax.
“Can’t wait to get my wet shoes off and have a nice chilled glass of wine”, I said, as I ran my hand through my weather beaten hair. An unexpected sensation stopped me in my tracks.
“OH NO!” I shrieked, “IT’S GONE!!!!”
The spouse froze, and my colleague looked bemused as I bent double and frantically combed my left ear with my hand in the hope that I would feel something other than naked left ear. The right one was fortunately still making a hideous crackling noise when I touched it. I vigorously shook my hair with both hands, only to find it empty, and let out a serious round of expletives.
“WHAT’S gone?” said the spouse before the penny dropped. “Oh, for god’s sake, don’t tell me you’ve lost one of your bloody hearing aids”, he said, “When do you remember last having it?”
“Oh how the hell would I know,” I wailed, ” if I knew that…oh, it could be ANYWHERE…for all I know it might even be back in Crianlarich!” My heart sank.
The image of our rain soaked group photo half way up a mountain earlier in the day flashed through my mind, and I hoped my missing left aid hadn’t fallen off there as it might currently be being ravished by a sexually aroused slug. Its circuitry wouldn’t stand a chance against an onslaught of rain, mud and mucus. I shuddered and felt a pang of anguish for my lost friend, alone in the wilderness. It was too horrible. I needed hope. I summoned up a more attractive memory and felt a kind of peace as I imagined the lost aid fallen at the side of the forestry path we’d walked with the students earlier; in my mind’s eye, the aid was gently cradled in a soft pillow of green moss, attentively listening for the sound of a tree falling in the forest to see if it made a sound if I wasn’t attached to it. Even though data logging had taken all the mystery out of that one for me, it was time I put it back in with wondering whether the sound of the philosophical tree falling would be similar through either an open or a closed hearing aid fitting without changing the programming? Well that’s what they told me earlier in the week at clinic O when I expressed concern at them slapping a pair of open domes on, when they’re programmed for tulip domes. Pah. The memory of my visit to clinic O caused negative thoughts to intrude on my verdant mossy pillow, so I urgently pressed on with my mental odyssey to find the aid. Where else had we been that day?
I paused to think; we’d been on a long bus journey to get back home after the trip, and I remembered being annoyed by engine noise in stereo, and road noise from the bus driver’s open window so I must have still had both aids. I’d definitely have noticed if one aid was missing because I’d actually have been able to hear the spouse on the bus if I’d had an empty left earhole. He gets very annoyed when he tries to talk to me in the presence of low-frequency engine noise with my tulip domes. Hey, wait a minute…low frequencies…I suddenly remembered being terrified by the sudden noise of a helicopter hovering just above the glass cupola in the ceiling of the gallery we’d dropped into briefly, after first arriving back in Glasgow. I must have had both hearing aids then, because it turned out the helicopter noise overhead was actually music coming from speakers at the far end of the room. I wouldn’t have heard it without the left aid. Aha!
“THE GALLERY!” I shouted excitedly. With renewed hopes, we set off to re-trace our steps out of the building, pausing briefly at the front desk before leaving. I needed to tell the janitor that if anyone handed in a hearing aid which was bright red on one side, silver on the other and beige up the middle, then it was indisputably mine.
Once that was done, the spouse insisted on one final check before heading back down the road to the gallery. “Look in the toilet by the shop, just in case you dropped it in there”, he said and I obediently set off, eyes tracking an invisible path on the floor, like Ariadne’s ball of thread in the Labyrinth. Once the toilet had successfully been eliminated as a last resting place for my missing hearing instrument, we followed the invisible thread down the wet pavement outside to the gallery. The spouse was getting very annoyed by then because, to his untrained eye, there were so many beige cigarette ends to rule out of the search. When we finally reached an overflowing bin and looked up, things got even worse and my hopes were dashed.
In the time since we had left earlier, a massive queue had formed outside the gallery entrance. It turned out the exhibition space had become crowded to capacity after news of a sponsored pizza delivery had spread quickly on campus. The slug sex scene on a muddy mountainside now seemed like a better end for a lost hearing aid than being trampled to death on the floor of a gallery by hundreds of hungry students. When the Dominos delivery had first arrived, greasy slices of pepperoni were dropping everywhere in an orgiastic frenzy of pizza ripping, but this wasn’t the worst of it. Even if the aid survived the trampling and the pepperoni, the little plastic tubs of sauce that fell unnoticed out of the boxes would finish it off. I had stepped on one by accident earlier, and noticed that my 160lbs psi pressure turned it into a lethal spicy paintball gun.
With heavy hearts, the spouse and I patiently joined the long queue, hoping for a miracle…
to be continued…