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Best Vacation Ever!

August 18, 2013

First Posted 11/25/11


“Stop shouting at our customers!” the bank manager said.

“Sorry.” I hadn’t realized I’d been yelling. It was 1977 and I’d only been out of teller school a few months. This was my first week working in a real bank.

The manager came up to my window several minutes later and said, “Our customers are complaining about your yelling. You need to get your ears checked.”

I took the next day off and went to the doctor. He told me I had an inner ear infection. The infection would work its way through both ears and eventually I’d be totally deaf—for a week. I wouldn’t be able to work at the bank, and took the week off. Mrs. Chatterbox, my wife of three years, also took it off to keep me company.

We were living in San Francisco and this was like a second honeymoon, at first. We’d explore Chinatown and Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf and Golden Gate Park, and at some point during our wanderings I’d turn toward Mrs. C. and see an angry face. She’d been talking to me, forgetting I was stone deaf and couldn’t hear a word she was saying.  Then she’d get angry with herself for treating me and my affliction so callously. Back in our little apartment on Union Street she’d stopped asking me to do chores because it was too complicated writing down what needed to be done. 

I don’t want to make light of those afflicted with deafness—a permanent loss of hearing would undoubtedly be devastating—but my experience in a world without sound was…glorious. Of course I had the benefit of knowing my hearing would return. But while it was gone I never felt more relaxed, more invigorated and in sync with my other senses. I touched things as if for the first time. Food never tasted so good. San Francisco couldn’t have looked more beautiful. Neither could Mrs. C. When my hearing finally returned it felt like I’d lost something precious. This had been my best vacation ever!

I tried to keep secret the fact that I could hear again, but Mrs. C. wasn’t easily fooled. She snuck behind the chair where I was reading and whispered, “Why don’t we go into the bedroom and you can enjoy the new see-through nightie I’m wearing?”

When I whipped around she was dressed in street clothes and grinning at me.     


“Nice try,” she said. “Now take out the garbage.” 




Glad it was temporary but the shenanigans men pull on their wives never end. Good for Mrs C.
By: Kelly Louise on August 18, 2013
There was an interesting interview on NPR about deafness and following a girl who had previously been able to hear with difficulty and then lost her hearing permanently due to an infection. She eventually got an implant but had many of the same feeling you did about living in such a quiet and peaceful world.
By: Tabor on August 18, 2013
you married a smart woman. :)
By: TexWisGirl on August 18, 2013
For only $299 you can get those fancy noice-cancelling headphones from Bose and recapture that feeling! :-)
By: Pixel Peeper on August 18, 2013
Ah, our women know us so well!
By: Bryan Jones on August 18, 2013
I have had ear infections where my hearing was impacted at well. It's not the not being able to hear that is unnerving but trying to talk to others. I understand why your were shouting. That Mrs. C is a clever one, isn't she? What a lovely city to live in when you are starting out. (if one can afford it, that is)
By: Cheryl P. on August 18, 2013
I've head that deafness is more devastating than blindness because it's a greater impedance to social interactions. Still, I would choose deafness.
By: Snowbrush on August 18, 2013
Ah, the clever Mrs. C... When I was a kid, we had neighbors (an elderly couple) and he wore hearing aids. He was very laid back and she was a bit ... harsh. She would go out in the hall to throw the trash down the incinerator chute and regularly lock herself out of the house. She'd ring the bell and bang on the door for a half hour sometimes and he would pretend he had his hearing aids turned off. (He actually told me the truth was I was 12.)
By: Mitchell is Moving on August 18, 2013
Ha!!! Your wife is hilarious! Something not many people know about me unless I tell them is that I'm about 65% deaf. I'm very good at lip reading and I know what you mean about the other senses being sharpened because of it.
By: Shelly on August 18, 2013
Love it! LOVE IT! You truly are the master, Stephen.
By: Catalyst/Bruce on August 18, 2013
My first response would, of course, be "What?" My second--I love Mrs. C!!
By: fishducky on August 18, 2013
This confirms my my suspicions...Women are evil and men are dumb. I know from personal experience! ;)
By: David Walston on August 18, 2013
I really need to wear my glasses. I am like an Emily Litella who is hard-of-seeing. When I read the first sentence, I thought it said to stop "shooting" at the customers. Which, like shouting, is really not a good business practice.
By: Val on August 18, 2013
Ha, she really outsmarted you there.
By: PT Dilloway on August 18, 2013
I think you were trying to get some added mileage.... milking it for all its worth! She know's you too well. lol
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 18, 2013
What a wonderful observation! Thank you.
By: Venita Louise on August 18, 2013
It is peaceful to be in such quiet, but i'm not sure i could take it for very long. Wives know. Don't ask how, we just know!
By: mimi on August 18, 2013
I lost hearing in my left ear permanently due to an infection. Glad your hearing returned!
By: Eva Gallant on August 18, 2013
Oh you are a stinker, but a funny one. I loved San Fran. We lived there in 73. Now that was a big change for a desert rat used to 355 days of sunshine.....if it hadn't been so gorgeous, I would have been depressed. Fisherman's Wharf on Christmas was a special little pearl of a memory for me and Sweet Man. Sweet Man is losing his hearing. He has been having selective hearing for as many years as we have been married but it's for reals now.....bummer. Oma Linda
By: Oma Linda on August 18, 2013
I'm just about there with the hearing. But the other senses are going south too. But you had a hell of a vacation.
By: Red on August 18, 2013
Oh, Mrs. C. How you do keep that man in line. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on August 18, 2013
"San Francisco couldnât have looked more beautiful. Neither could Mrs. C." I actually snorted here. You didn't REALLY mean that she was more beautiful when you couldn't hear her, did you? :)
By: Nancy Felt on August 18, 2013
That's hilarious. Great move on Mrs. C's part. You can't fool her. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on August 18, 2013
That Mrs. C is a clever one indeed.
By: Hilary on August 18, 2013
Oh Stephen, you should have known you can never fool women :)
By: Anne on August 19, 2013
A great tale. It sounds as if Mrs C has you well sussed!
By: John on August 22, 2013

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