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Now hear this!

I never know quite how to behave when I go to the doctor.

I once got a bad case of the giggles during a blood test, and several years ago when they ripped the EKG pads off my hairy chest, I said a bad word. Generally, I bend over backward not to draw attention to myself, although one other time I was bending over forward and I may have yelped.

Last week I had my annual physical. I was sitting in the waiting room filling out a new form that asks “if you have contracted any new diseases since your last appointment.” Maybe I’m old school, but if I had developed something serious, I probably would have squeezed in another visit.

The last page of the questionnaire was titled: A SIMPLE TEST TO SEE IF YOU HAVE HEARING LOSS

This was in big, bold capital letters, like they were already yelling at me – as if hard of hearing is closely connected to hard of reading.

The survey had 10 questions to diagnose the problem. Here they are, verbatim:

1. Do others complain that you watch TV with the volume too high?

Every night, my wife comes into the bedroom while I’m watching Colbert, looks at me and says, “I can’t believe how loud this is.” I know she is saying that, because I can read lips. 

2. Do you frequently ask others to repeat themselves?

Constantly. “Say that again!” I’ll yell at a friend at lunch. You would, too, if you heard some of the crapola people believe from watching cable news.

3. Do you have to sit up front in church to understand the sermon?

First of all, I’m Jewish, so no. When I was a kid in religious school, I cut my Hebrew class all the time. Even when my hearing was perfect, I did not have a clue what the rabbi was talking about. 

4. Do you have difficulty understanding women?

The questionnaire says some loss is so gradual you don’t even know you have a problem unless someone brings it to your attention. Gee, I wonder who that would be?

5. Do you have trouble understanding children?

Babies? Not a word. Toddlers? Not a problem. Teenagers? Not a clue. 

6. Do you know where sounds come from?

This is a tricky one, like the “tree falling in the forest” question. Here’s another: If your spouse is complaining about something and you can’t hear the griping, is there still a problem? 

7. Can you hear people in another room?

No. That is the main reason I went into another room. 

8. Have others mentioned that you don’t seem to hear them?

Maybe, but I think I was in another room at the time.

9. Do you avoid family meetings because you can’t understand the conversations?

No, I avoid family meetings because in the words of Hoosier humorist Kin Hubbard: “There is plenty of peace in a home where the family doesn’t make the mistake of trying to get together.”

10. Do you have ringing in your ears?

Occasionally. But I finally realized the noise meant there was someone at the front door.

Being a little hard of hearing has actually worked to my advantage. The other day my wife came to the basement while I was hooking up my new printer. She asked: “What kind is it?”

“It’s about 8:30,” I told her.

That’s an old joke. But my wife never heard it.

Dick Wolfsie is a syndicated columnist and personality for WISH TV Indianapolis.