Most of the time, my broken ears don't bother me. As I usually have to tell people - the low-speakers and mumblers, anyway - that I can't hear properly, my broken ears don't usually bother others either.
Frankly, the fact that I'm hard of hearing probably makes me more likeable. I'm highly excitable and easily frenzied as it is, but if I had to listen to all the inconsequential noises that fill the hearing person's world, I'd drive myself and everyone around me batty. A small bout of irritation would turn into a full-scale tantrum if I had to listen to a leaky faucet. Therefore, my deafness preserves my sanity and protects my friendships. But then again, you guys don't even notice those things anymore, do you? You don't notice the swoop of the air conditioner as it starts up, and the squeal that trucks make when they turn a corner, and the tinkle-clink of somebody handling change. Maybe it'd be the same for me. Maybe.
My hearing loss, which is mostly just an inconvenience and doesn't usually cause me much angst, has lately been filling my brain with worry. My upcoming trip to London, yet again, is causing me great hearing stress. A lot of English phones, you see, ring at a tone that my ears don't reach. If my hearing aids pick up the ring, it's fine, as I can take calls during the day. At the very least, if I can't hear it, the front desk will take a message, so it's workable. However, the situation does make traditional hotel wake-up calls an impossibility, as I can't sleep with my aids in. Travel alarm clocks are equally useless. I don't even know what they sound like. The last time I was in London, I was able to hear the phone in my room, but that hotel, sadly, is completely booked for the days I'll be there. My only option, then, is a clock radio, which isn't always a guarantee. The average not-too-ghetto, not-too-posh English hotel is funny that way. They'll ensure you have a working bidet, but the shower will consist of a tiny box in the corner of the room. And there will be no clock radio.
Still, I've dealt with London before; I can deal with it again. And if I'm late for work, then so be it.
But that's London. And this is Toronto, where I'm facing a whole 'nother problem.
Because my deafness is such that I lose a lot of clarity, going to see any kind of performance or movie proves difficult. I love live theatre, and never had a problem paying exorbitant ticket prices before, when I could still hear. But in the last few years, as my hearing has degenerated, it's simply not worth it. Mamma Mia was fun, but that's only because I know and love Abba enough to get a kick out of the songs. I only found out what the show was about during intermission, when my sister said something about a wedding and a choice of fathers. And you all remember what happened when I went to go see Henry Rollins last year, right?
Anyway, with all that in mind, you'll understand why I'll rarely be found at a theatre near you. After all, I can't watch TV without the closed captioning; movies are just a wasted $12. Every so often, I make an attempt, like last summer with The Notebook. I got the gist of the flick, and I got a little misty, but it was only a week ago when I rented the DVD that I really got what was going on. Poppets, I may have cried a little in the theatre, but when I was able to read every word along with the movie, I bawled my eyes out.
Imagine then, my excitement about a new bit of technology called Rear Window Captioning. Basically, it's a bit of mirror/see-through-glass with an arm that you stick in your drink cup. You position it like you would a rear-view mirror, so that it's in front of you, and at the base of your view of the movie screen. Then, it picks up the movie captioning as its scrolled backwards from somewhere at the back of the theatre. At least, that's what I think it is, as I've not had the chance to try it out yet.
In an area as large as the Greater Toronto Area, with all of those dozens and dozens of multiplexes showing the multitude of movies that are released these days, one would think I'd have the chance to indulge in a little cinematic joy, despite my bad ears, right? Right?
Here's the thing: out of all those theatres, there are perhaps four or five in the GTA that have RW access. As the four or five are the really big ones, with 15 or 20 screens, that in itself isn't horrible. Except, in each theatre, there might be two, but there's usually only one flick being screened that actually has rear window captioning available for it. And what's more, it's not available for every showing.
Last week, if I wanted to, I could have gone to see that Kutcher- Peet picture, but only if I made it for the 7:10 showing on Tuesday or Thursday, at a movie theatre located 25 minutes from home. And that's all. That was my option.
It's a little angry-making, you guys. I'm not handicapped, dammit, but it is things like that that make me feel the loss. I bought my hearing aids! I did my part! All the theatres are, rightly, wheelchair accessible. Why not go a little further with RWC?
And God! Hollywood! Are you stupid? Can you imagine how much more money you'd make if you'd let the deaf community watch movies when they're first released?
Right. I'd like to say that this rant is over, but you know, I'm kind of pissed off. I think I just found myself a new project.
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