Each of us who is hard of hearing faces a dilemma. We dislike conceding or explaining our deafness, and we want to hear as much as we can.
We can’t have it both ways, advertisements of miracle miniature hearing aids notwithstanding. We can’t do our best to comprehend what we are hearing and hide our hearing defect. Not for long. King Goa VI of Portugal might have come close to it in the early 1800s when he commissioned an acoustical throne with ear trumpets concealed behind the decorative lion mouth entries to the arm rests.
The device emerged at his head as tubes he snugged into his ears. The king could sit back and hear in regal repose while the “lions” amplified the voices of his kneeling subjects. But certainly occasions arose when the king, on or off his throne, had to bend to hear. We all do.
In response, we develop a kind of aural foreign policy we refer to when deciding how much we will bend. We use it to resolve two questions: Under what circumstances do we conceal, concede, or actively discuss our deafness? And under what circumstances will we strive to hear or allow ourselves not to hear?
The decisions we reach in such matters are always lonely.