Shaun of the Deaf

by Tina Blue
January 23, 2005

      I was watching the movie Shaun of the Dead with my friend Michael this evening. At one point in the movie, as Shaun is on his way to work, I had to ask Michael to pause the DVD so that I could change the battery in my right hearing aid. You know how when your battery is dying, it causes your aid to make that wavering beeping noise? Well, my aid, which had been working fine a moment earlier, suddenly began making that noise.

       I was rather annoyed because the battery was no more than two days old, and I don't wear my hearing aids most of the time, so it should not have been worn out yet.

      Michael patiently paused the DVD while I went to change the battery.

      Then I sat back down, and he started the movie again.  But it was no good. I was still getting that sound. Hmph, I thought, I bet this whole pack of batteries is dead.

      I tried another new battery from the pack, and then the last two, as well--and got the same sound each time. I was pretty frustrated, because I had no batteries other than those in that new pack.

      "Tina," Michael said, "are you sure it's your hearing aid?  Maybe it's the sound of the car horn in the movie."

      "No," I said, "I've heard this sound before when my batteries die.  Besides, when it started, I turned off my hearing aid and the sound stopped."

      What could I do? I had no more batteries.  I use closed captioning, but I also need what sound I can get in order to really follow a movie.  With no sound at all, I miss too much of what is happening on screen while I read the closed captioning. 

      Since my right ear is the "good" one, I switched the battery from the left hearing aid to the right and put the left hearing aid back into its container. 

      Michael started the movie again.

      And the sound started up again in my right ear.

     That couldn't be right. The battery in that aid had been working fine a second earlier.  It would be too much of a coincidence for it to suddenly die just as the first one had, when I also had a whole four-pack of dead new batteries. 

     So we turned up the volume full blast (I usually only have it about ¾ of the way to full blast--out of sympathy for Michael's more functional ears); I took out the hearing aid, cupped my right ear and stuck it right up next to the TV.

     Sure enough, I heard that same darned sound!  It
the incessant blaring of a car horn. At that point in the movie Shaun is walking past a car whose driver is slumped over dead at the wheel, and the body's head resting on the horn causes it to blare continuously.

    I hadn't heard it in my nearly useless left ear, even with the hearing aid in, so when I turned off the aid in my right ear and the sound stopped, I just assumed it must be the hearing aid that was making the sound.  As it turned out, though, all of the batteries in the pack were good--and so was the one that had been in the right hearing aid in the first place.

    But whenever I can't hear something, or whenever I hear weird sounds, I immediately assume it has to do with my deafness. It never even occurs to me that the problem might not be my ears.

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