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It’s true. I can’t hear much of anything anymore. For a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is, of course, my selective listening. This is an ailment The Mom has accused me of suffering from for some time now. Well, actually, forever.

The larger issue is that I arrived home with The World’s Worst Head Cold. Truly.

I awoke in London at 5am and the horrifying knowledge that I was desperately ill settled in to my mucous-clogged head as I rode the Picadilly line to its logical conclusion at Terminal 2, Heathrow.

In my usual haphazard fashion, I arrived at the airport slightly later than both myself and Air Canada would’ve preferred, which, as it turned out, wasn’t much of a problem as the flight left London two hours later than scheduled. Which gave me time to go to the Boots and avail myself of the sympathies of the pharmacist. She gave me a packet of cold and flu tablets, and a cup of water. I chugged a couple of tablets and ran to my gate.

In the boarding lounge, I was not the only person sniffling and blowing my nose. There were many of us. And we were all a sorry, sorry sight.

Arriving in Toronto, my head cold came into its own. I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t breathe. I was amazing.

Crazy D, who drew the short straw of airport pick-up duties, had been languishing in a car park. We agreed to meet at Pillar C, which is our usual spot. But he was in the wrong terminal, and so was located elsewhere. Pillar 8 apparently. I duly went downstairs, with my case and my tissues, but he was nowhere to be found. Or, rather, Pillar 8 was nowhere in sight.

There were a few harried mobile phone calls. Eventually we found one another. Both of us were the worse for wear.

As the days progressed, my cold only got worse. The Mom was, I believe, secretly pleased about this. Not that I was sickly, but that I was sickly at home, where I could be placed under her care, which is the only place she believes anyone will ever get well again. She ministered to my illness, threw more cold and flu tablets down my gullet, tried to tempt me with some fancy new phlegm syrup she’d got, and kept her distance. As did L’il Sis, who, with a compromised immune system, could ill-afford to get ill.

The upshot of my illness was that my hearing was worse than usual. All I heard was the amplified whine of my tinitus, coupled with the crackling of whatever was in my head coming undone and oozing out.

We often joke about my habit of wearing toques and hats in the house in winter. We joke that this is to keep all my many, many thoughts contained. But this time all it did was restrict my hearing further.

Most of my visit, then, was divided up into me saying, What?, quite loudly, then wandering around the house looking for whomever it was who was trying to talk to me or at me.

I have caught about 35% of what’s been said to me, and frankly, I feel that’s enough. The bird feeder report, as we refer to The Mom’s thrice daily statement of Interesting Events and Items of Great Importance, is easier to parse when you can actually see the birds in question.

My lack of hearing drives The Mom to distraction. In large part I believe this is because her witticisms and general funny remarks lose something after she’s had to yell them at me upwards of four times. But, as I’ve come to learn, a large part of what’s being communicated with our lot can effectively be described through mime. We are a family of wild gesticulators, and so as long as you’re in the same room as everyone else, you can make out what’s happening just fine. Sure, it leads to some wacky moments and some absurd translations, which people think are due entirely to my lack of hearing but really, even if I had heard people correctly the first time, I probably would’ve just misinterpreted things for fun.

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