Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

The dog just barked in my ear, enough that it hurt. I have to consider this a good sign though. I can hear the dog well enough that he doesn’t have to scream in my ear. Hearing is important to my work, both the Day Job and my tarot work.

I had my hearing tested last week. It took almost a year to get the appointment and, unlike my medical plan’s other policies, this particular test wasn’t covered under the “diagnostic tests are free” rule for the co-pays. I had to pay money to find out if my hearing is bad enough to need a little boost.

I spent a good deal of energy in my childhood translating what my mother said to my father. I suspected it was “selective deafness.” He just couldn’t hear my mother. Lorna, my hearing test technician, confirmed this phenomenon also known as marital deafness. Apparently it can be contagious.

“Good news, honey! I don’t need hearing aids yet,” I said to John.


Well, you get the picture.

The good news is that I didn’t have to spend an extraordinary amount of money on a personal speaker system to pump the everyday world straight into my head. Decent hearing aids are thousands of dollars and I’d love someone to explain exactly why.

I want to give a break to the deaf community here by saying I think it’s perfectly OK if they feel good about their variation of the hearing feature and alternative language skills. I’m not an audio bigot by any means.

However, since I have grown used to hearing, I would like to continue to do so as a personal choice. I attended my share of rock concerts. I saw George Harrison during his Dark Horse tour. Well, I saw his left shoulder and vest. I was on the floor of the arena in St. Louis in the last row of the folding chairs. Even standing on the chair, due to my lack of personal altitude, I feel the best I can say is that I saw George Harrison’s vest. But I did hear him.

I saw Bob Dylan when he was doing a jazz thing. I went to a concern where Blondie warmed up for Savoy Brown. I slept through Savoy Brown. Not many people can say that, I think. I loved the REO concert in Rolla, Missouri where we danced out of the gymnasium, happiest concert I ever attended. I thrilled to Renaissance in Edwardsville, Illinois by the river bank, transcendent music for me. I sat in the top row of another sports arena and watched fondly as one of my precious friends, with the aid of entirely too many brewskies, attempted to rush the stage in adoration of Stevie Nicks during a Fleetwood Mac tour. Bob’s attempts were foiled but perhaps it’s just as well. We are not sure he would have remembered the encounter had he been successful. We all understood the need, though, to touch the intangible.

I probably attended more Kinks concerts than any other group or single artist. My first husband and his best friend from high school were Kinks fans. The girlfriends and wives of the group of guys they hung out with generally turned up their noses at the Kinks but I think now they were just scornful of the primal scream competition that the guys held any time they got together, filled the rooms with smoke and turned up the volume on the stereo which was usually playing the Kinks. I could usually bring the scream-fest to a halt by participating in it with them, which made the guys look at me as if I were stoned and not them. As musical, melodious and meaningful as the Kinks’ music was, that had to contribute to my hearing loss potential.

Still when the girls would get together, they would ask me how I could stand to listen to Led Zeppelin or Jethro Tull and I would blink because, well, I liked them, seriously. I adored Pink Floyd and I didn’t care which one was Pink.

You’d think I was some sort of rock and roll groupie since my second husband was a sound and lights man for live events. And I have to admit one rabid fan moment as a backstage groupie. Oh, it was nothing like one of my college acquaintances who crawled into a bathroom window with a cast on her arm just to sleep with a pop culture author she had heard speak at the university that evening. (Insert bug-eyed emoticon here.) But it was bold for me.

I had come along to a private function, a high-priced fund-raiser that took up the interior of a mall in the Bay Area somewhere near Silicon Valley. Dressed in my t-shirt and blue jeans and complete with a sinus infection that should have prevented most normal human functions, I was a stage hand helping with the miles of cable and plugs and tape and test-1-2, test-1-2 that is the setup of a live event. It’s a Page of Swords sort of job, technical, not pretty. You have to do what you’re told and do it right the first time. You’re not paid to give your opinion or enthusiasm.
Picture Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

Most musical acts will do a warm up and sound test well before the concert in these small venues because the acoustics and placement of speakers and microphones varies each time they create a stage in a place where no permanent stage exists.

And there he was. One of my idols since, well, since I wasn’t really old enough to know better. Michael McDonald, once of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan and now out on his own, was the featured act. Tall, dark, handsome, with a liquid voice that could make even my high school biology teacher weak in the knees if she’d given him a chance, he gave a sound check which was his entire concert. It was my own private concert. Heaven!

Shy, still, I quietly approached Mr. McDonald’s personal sound technician, not wanting to disturb The Artist Himself.

“Do you think he would mind,” I snuffled, “if I asked for his autograph?”

The sound guy looked at me, so obviously not a stage hand, covered in dust and grit. Was I the only 40-year-old groupie who had asked this question?

“Naw! Him? Are you kidding? He’d love it!”

I figured the sound guy was lying to me. Or not. Either way, if I wanted an autograph before I died of the sinus infection, I had to make my move. I stepped softly across the flimsy stage and tapped Michael McDonald on the shoulder softly but definitely. He wheeled around, surprised.

“I’ve been in love with you forever!”

My dirty hands flew to my mouth as my face grew red. The room spun or it could have been the ear infection. Mr. McDonald had half a grin on his face, perhaps looking for a security guard. I nearly melted with embarrassment. Smooth, I thought. Very smooth. I shoved my crew ID badge and a Sharpie marker at him.

“Can I have your autograph?”

We were both relieved that was all it was. He signed my badge, “Love, Mike McDonald.” I succumbed to my dread and infection, retreated and drove home, unable to speak for many reasons. I still love “What a Fool Believes.” I still have that badge. I want to keep hearing the music, if for nothing else than for nostalgia’s sake.

Best wishes.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear your hearing is a-okay! And thanks for the laugh about Mr. McDonald. Great story!