I rarely wear my hair up. It gives me a headache and I don't like my hearing aids being so prominent. People treat me differently when they see the hearing aids, y'know.
But it was so. hot. on Saturday. I'm talking dripping sweat, Amazon rain forest kind of hot (of course, this is coming from the girl who thinks 85 degrees is too much). I had a party to go to, which meant venturing outside into the Amazon rain forest that is Kansas City and I was not about to do it with hair plastered to my neck, so up it went.
Which was all fine and good until I got to QT. I ran in to get some chips and a drink and went to the counter to pay for them. The clerk, who had been speaking in a normal voice to every other customer up until now, takes one look at me (and by "me," I mean he saw my hearing aids) and it was like he suddenly lost his voice! I had to strain to hear him, because even lipreading can't cover everything.
Clerk: (whispering) "All for you?"
Me: "Huh? What?"
Clerk (no longer whispering but still speaking softly): "Is that all?"
Me (speaking as clearly as I can without sounding like I am talking to a slow person): "Yes. That. Is. All."
Clerk (who is back to whispering): "Ebit or edit?" (what? That's what it sounded like)
Me (mentally rolling my eyes): "I'm sorry?"
Clerk (barely above a whisper): "Debit or credit?"
Me (How does he think this is helpful?): "Debit."
Clerk (with raised eyebrows and some random hand motions): "Do you want a bag?"
Me (I give up): "No, thanks!"
Usually when people figure out I have a hearing problem, they try to talk louder. And/or they over-enunciate and they TAAAAWWWLLLKKK..... LIII-IIIIKE.... THEEEEEEEEES. But not this guy, no. "I better not talk so loud," he's probably thinking. "She has a hearing problem." Um, okay.
Then I finally made my way to the aforementioned party. There were a lot of people there from church, many whom I recognized but only one or two I had actually talked to before. So I was a little worried about it being awkward and loud and left-out-y, but it was, to my pleasant surprise, not as bad as I thought it would be. And I discovered that as much time as I spend trying to convince myself and others than I'm not so different from them that maybe I could invest a little more energy in considering how they're not so different from me.
Like the guy who had to ask his friend to repeat his question a few times. "I can't hear you," he hollered. "All this ambient noise!" Welcome to my world, I wanted to say with a hearty nod of agreement. Then there was the guy who obviously didn't understand what I had asked him. The question was, "How long have you been going to Church Name?" His response? "Oh, that's nice." HA. I'm on to you, hearing people. You fake it just as much as I do! ;-)
Finally, I think people are always kind of surprised when I open my mouth. Like, "Whoa, she can like, talk and stuff?" I was at this other party last week (I know, I'm popular. Don't hate. I'm not really popular.) and I asked someone a question. I spoke as clearly as I can - and I think I have pretty clear speech. Don't correct me if I'm wrong. Just go with it. Anyway, I had to ask him three times before he heard the question, which is fine, but each time I said it, he just looked kind of... stunned. Like he wasn't sure what to do with the fact that the Hearing Aids... spoke! (insert ghostly whispers from Lost here)
I wish I was braver and wore my hair up more, or followed other people's lead and wore tricked out hearing aids (colored molds, stickers on the aid, what have you). I'm chicken because I never know how people will respond. And I don't know, I like blending in, too. Which sounds weird to say in a world where every single person is unique, just like everyone else, and everyone is special and wonderful and deserves a gold star for waking up in the morning. But it's true. I don't like standing out. I don't like being different. On the other hand, I have to admire the gutso of people who realize they can't quite blend in. So they wear colored ear molds or gather their hair up high to expose their hearing aids. And when people are funny, these bold individuals take the opportunity - even if it's just a few seconds - to educate someone about hearing loss.
Maybe it's time for me to woman up and not be afraid to wear my hair up. I don't think the summer is going to let me win this one, anyway.