I'm pretty much deaf now. The male ear can withstand only so many gripes, accusations, hissy fits and requests for cash before the eardrum itself -- like a tiny silk pizza -- just implodes on itself.
My left eardrum went the other day. First, there was a giant sucking sound -- well, actually, that was me eating lunch. Then immediately after that, the eardrum disappeared in a gust of pleas for homework help.
"What's another word for thesaurus?" was the last thing I remember hearing.
Now I am half deaf and never happier. In fact, I look forward to the day when the other eardrum implodes, and I'll never have to listen to another TV report about Chris Brown.
The only thing I'll miss, I figure, is the warm personal exchanges that often go on in our house, resonant as the Lord's Prayer.
"I DON'T HAVE TIME NOW, OK? OK!!!!" is the most common refrain lately, voiced by one of the wee children after being asked to perform some simple chore.
"DAD, I'LL DO IT LATER, I SWEAR."
They couldn't be more willing to help, but they're busy, see? Really busy.
Still, I'm of the mind that a kid should keep up the bedroom and not treat the family car like a stinkin' closet.
Jeeesh, the things I find in their mother's minivan. Hair bows and nail clippers, ticket stubs and salad forks. Lacrosse sticks. Makeup brushes. Pizza crust dating to the Crimean War. Altoids. Lots of sticky coins. Study guides for "Hamlet."
Evidently, there is an entire family living in our car. They enter at night, have parties, book club meetings and yoga class. Judging by what they leave behind, they are exceptionally well-groomed.
"Could there be," I ask my wife, "people living in our car?"
"Huh?" she says.
See, she's deaf too. Actually, Posh hears only what she wants to hear, which is nothing except my sweet and constant declarations of love, which come twice annually (if you count her birthday).
In fact, I believe all parents eventually go deaf, just to survive. Because to acknowledge every petty grievance and catfight would make you completely crazy. Better a silent world. Better an Amish Mardi Gras.
That doesn't mean I tune out everything, no way. The other day, I heard Posh mutter "pervert" because I accidentally clicked on some late-night HBO show that featured the naked human form. It wasn't gratuitous or gross, nothing like that.
The show was called "Boobs, Thighs and Butts," one of those thought-provoking dramas that our premium cable package offers over and over again. As luck would have it, Posh walks in at the exact moment I happen to click on "Boobs, Thighs and Butts." The chances of this eventually happening are approximately 1 to 1.
"Um, what are you watching?" she asks.
" 'Boobs, Thighs and Butts,' " I tell her.
"Um, do you think that's appropriate?"
"That's what I'm trying to determine," I tell her.
Quickly, I click off of "Boobs, Thighs and Butts," and come across the pilot for "Confessions of a Confused and Vapid Streetwalker," which I think is a Showtime series. It is a repulsive show, rife with bad language and enormous numbers of boobs, thighs and butts. I don't expect it to last more than five years.
So I'm thinking of producing my own series. I'd take our little video camera and follow Posh around the house, recording her screen test. There would be just a hint of sexual tension, but no one would ever discuss it. Contractually, I would insist on complete access, which would be a first for us.
Then she could film me a little . . . napping, organizing the garage, removing splinters from the little guy's feet, a new hobby with me.
"Hold still . . . hold still . . . HOLD STILL!"
Recently, the little guy has taken up break dancing. He spins around on that worn little patch of wood floor in front of the washing machine, picking up splinters in his soft hands and feet.
They are the tiniest splinters you ever saw, two pixels in width, like the eyelash of an eyelash. So, I've been forced to become the Dr. DeBakey of splinter removal. With a team of 12 assistants, I pin the little guy to the couch, then remove the splinter in about three seconds. It's almost a gift, this thing I have for removing prefinished oak flooring from the foot of a kindergartner.
In fact, I am one of the best splinter surgeons around. I accept Blue Cross, Red Cross and uncashed parimutuel tickets. Seriously, if you ever get a splinter, just call my office for an appointment.
"Dad, want to clean my ears now?" the little guy asks after I take out another splinter.
This show is going to be such a hit.