April 22, 2007
I was subjected to many things during my time in the USMC but one of the worst was the dreaded hearing test.
The yearly visits to the pool to end up half drowned during swim quals were a Saturday afternoon picnic. The visits to the gas chamber were like a walk in the park. Rifle ranges actually were an enjoyable experience.
The hearing test though, that was a different animal all together.
It starts with signing in. Then you wait for an eternity for an available seat in this bomb shelter looking room. Finaly it’s your turn and you and about five other guys go into this soundproof chamber where you put on headphones and get a little clicker put in your hand. Soundproof must equate with comfortable room temperature proof too because I have never been in one of these contraptions that was not freezing or hotter than the bowels of hell.
Once everyone is inside the door is shut and the lights go out and it is down to you and those infernal little beeps. The beeps come in groups of about three and they go from very high frequency down to very low. They are in the right earphone and then the left. Your supposed to click the handheld button every time you hear one. They are faint. Barely audible.
You sit in the dark with eyes clenched tight focusing on the beeps. It is so silent. Before the beeps even begin you notice that you can hear your own heart beating and you get nervous because it might interfere with hearing the beeps. This makes your heart beat even faster. You realize that you have had every muscle in your body clenched tight for the last five minutes in anticipation of the beeps. When you try to relax you hear your own neck creaking and the bones all over your body make sounds similar to blue whales calling to each other over vast distances of ocean. You begin to breathe faster because of the tension. These breathes further clutter the aural spectrum to the point that nothing can get through.
There is sweat pouring down over your brow by this time and the dark and the silence and the anticipation have all led you to a point where you half expect the door to be flung open at any minute and someone to spray the room with automatic weapon fire. God, you almost wish for it. This is the punishment that the devil reserves, in hell, for those who have been extra bad in life. He commits them to an eternal hearing chamber where they perpetually wait for the series of beeps that will never come.
Then, what was that? Was that a beep? In these situations your mind really does play tricks on you. I can’t honestly say how many beeps I really heard and how many I thought I heard. I always seemed to pass the test, or at least no one ever said anything to me about it. What a stressful way to go about it though. There has got to be a scientist out there somewhere that recognizes the placebo effect in this. You just can’t get accurate results this way because everyone starts to hear beeps because that’s what they’re supposed to be hearing.
I vowed I would never complain about this again after a Navy Corpsman told me that all the Marines gripe about this simple, harmless little test. And he thought they were all supposed to be tough and everything. But I don’t care anymore. This test sucks and it should be done away with.
April 8, 2007
I would like to use this forum to come out of the closet about something that I have been keeping secret for about seventeen or so years now. It is not my intention to cause a big scene about it or to humiliate my family and friends although both of these are very real possibilities. If either of these possibilities were to play out then let me apologize in advance but it will not change my feelings.
Most of you probably have no idea how hard it is to do something like this. It’s easy in the sense that I don’t have to speak the words face to face with people but the luxury of just typing it comes at the price of telling the whole world.
I’m willing to pay that price though because I have concluded that this is a part of me just as my elbow is a part of me and I’m not ashamed of my elbow so why be ashamed of this?
All right. Enough alluding. I have been and am now and will probably always be a huge Ernest fan. You know Ernest? Ernest P Worrel. Know what I mean, Vern? That Ernest.
Most people hate Ernest because his only audience was five year olds because they were the only people who could find that stuff funny. I think that people feel that way about all kinds of things, not just Ernest, because they are worried about what people will think of them if they admitted that they liked it? I don’t care anymore. There’s the difference.
I also believe that humor comes in many forms. Dark humor. Intelligent humor. Whimsical humor. Physical Humor. Adult humor. Political humor. The list goes on and on. I know that life is a little less dreary when you can find the humor in things. That means looking for it in some pretty strange places though.
I found a source of humor that I can share with my two young children. A humor that we can all laugh about with no nudity, no foul language and no violence. Well, no violence any worse than Three Stooges type violence anyway. I love to laugh and I love the sound of my children’s laughter and I can have both whenever we watch an Ernest movie.