From The Sky - Part II

Insalate

Insalate...

It's funny, the things that get all turned around when you lose your hearing. For instance, I never used to let Joe do the grocery shopping. He just wasn't good at it, even when I gave him a detailed list and took the time to go over it with him and stress the importance of coupons and picking up items on sale. At the store he'd walk right by the specials and buy the most expensive name brand items on the shelf. He nearly always returned with a pocket full of coupons, and half of them were for items he had in the shopping bags. I nicknamed him "Full Price Joe." I remember once, not long after we married, I sent him to the store with a twenty-dollar bill for a bottle of olive oil. He came home with a seven bucks and a fancy bottle with some Cooking Channel star's face plastered on it.

"Joe, you could have bought two bottles of the store brand!"

"Yeah, but you watch this show every day."

"Honey, it's thirteen dollars! Half the price is for the chef's name on the bottle! I always buy the store brand."

"And you always watch her show. You really, really like her show."

So I did all the shopping until I lost my hearing. Then Joe took over. I didn't stop right away…I tried for a month or so, but it was just too hard. Neighbors would see me, and that led to awkward moments. They'd start to say something, catch themselves, grow red in the face, then shake my hand or kiss my cheek and walk away. If they were a bit dense, they'd talk louder…I could tell, because their lips would move slowly and their eyebrows would tent up. A useless exercise on their part; I couldn't have heard a hydrogen bomb exploding.

The grocery lines were the worst. I learned to anticipate the usual questions: "Paper, or plastic?" "Any coupons?" "Do you want the coffee ground today?" That usually got me through the line without incident. But sometimes things went sideways:

"Good afternoon, ma'am. How are you today?"

"Plastic."

"You're plastic?"

"Three: A dollar off the roast beef, a two-for-one on the toilet cleaner, and twenty cents off the tuna."

"Have you been drinking, ma'am?"

"Grind for me, please."

A second or two later, I'd notice their bewilderment and feel my cheeks reddening. I would explain that I was deaf, and they'd nod…and then their lips would move slowly and the eyebrows would arch. The hydrogen bomb thing again. Eventually it just got too embarrassing. I forced Joe to go with me so I could train him to shop. It took a lot of work, but he's finally half-decent at it. He still forgets sale items, but at least he's using the coupons.

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