Wednesday, January 14, 2015

e's Favorite Things: Earplugs

Turn it down, people
"Got your earplugs?"

One of my husband's friends asks me this every single time he sees me—it's become something of a running joke. Without fail, I DO have my earplugs.

Several years ago, I started experiencing a kind of painful sensation in my right ear. I'd be somewhere loud for a little while, and then it would be like my ear just couldn't take it anymore and would start crackling... and then everything would break up into static. I equated it to speaker blowing out. I consulted a few different doctors and went through some cool tests at an auditory lab and whatnot, and though they had some term for it that I've long since forgotten, the bottom line was that while my hearing was very good, it was also extremely sensitive. What's weird is that after a bout of blinding migraines in junior high I had my vision checked and was told essentially the same thing about my eyes: great vision, but hypersensitive to light.

This leaves me as someone who will almost always choose to wear sunglasses (cue Corey Hart) and earplugs, on top of trying to avoid brightly lit and excessively loud places. If I think of myself as a vampire whose excellent sight and hearing abilities are finally starting to fail her after the centuries, then I feel better about all of this.

The auditory equivalent of GET OFF MY LAWN
Since my job requires me to be at a movie theaters several times a week, I must always make sure I have earplugs on hand. A few times I've switched purses and then realized to my horror that I'd left my earplugs behind. I've had to make like MacGyver and take concession napkins, fold and roll them up into noise barriers and stuff them into my ears. Once I left some in accidentally and had an entire conversation with a fellow critic after a movie. It wasn't until I went into the restroom that I saw the bright white pointy napkins sticking out of both sides of my head like antennae. That made me feel pretty awesome about myself.

One question I always get is, "Well can you still hear the movie?" And that's the secret I wanted to share with all of you today: you can hear the movie BETTER. What the earplugs do is drown out all of the annoying noises in the theater. People whispering, candy wrappers crackling, popcorn chomping—all gone. The loudest parts of a film, like any scenes with explosions or where the score cranks up to 11, are more muted. But other than that I can hear everything just fine and my ears are never ringing afterward. I'd highly recommend trying it out the next time you go to a movie. If the sound is muted too much for your liking, pull out the earplugs slightly until you find a happy medium.

I pop in earplugs at every concert, every time I use a hair dryer, and at any restaurant that's extra loud. If my son is in a particularly screamy mood, in go the earplugs. Once again, I can still hear everything, it's simply more comfortable and stops my ears from revolting.

At this point I'm pretty sure I'll still have crystal-clear hearing at age 90 because I've been taking these preventative measures to protect my ears for nearly 20 years now.
I prefer beige for their stealthiness.
If you want to be cool like me, I'd recommend finding some beige ones rather than all of the crazy neon ones that seem to be stocked everywhere. I'm assuming neon is all the rage because maybe most people who buy earplugs need them for job-safety requirements. Like maybe they're working around loud machinery and bright dots sticking out of their ears will somehow help them be more noticeable to a co-worker. But I prefer for people to NOT notice I'm wearing them, so beige is the best for me. Sometimes I cut them in half so that they're not even sticking out. They still work just fine. Last year at Lollapalooza I found myself without any earplugs and had a total meltdown. I was positive that since I'm ancient compared to most people who go, there was no way I would find earplugs anywhere. But thankfully they had some (neon, of course) at the makeshift convenience shop and I was able to enjoy the rest of my day.

So the next time you're at a crowded movie and don't want to be annoyed by your fellow attendees, grab some earplugs beforehand and let me know what you think. Unfortunately the earplugs will do nothing to help you if someone starts lighting up the theater with their texting, though. For that I recommend a gentle kick to the head. (I'm kidding. Kind of.)

- e

1 comment:

Aunt Sue said...

I've worn earplugs for many, many years now. I totally agree about hearing better in noisy places WITH earplugs in. I found this out years ago, while working in the crazy loud shop. I could never understand how everyone could hear each other talking--I could never hear what anyone said. Then, I tried wearing earplugs just for the sake of drowning out the shop noise--and guess what?? I realized I could also hear people!! It must be a genetic thing--because I am extremely sensitive to lights and also to noise. My ears have HURT after going to wedding receptions/music, and also bars. I HATE loud noise/music and I HATE bright lights. Other than that--I AM A REALLY AWESOME AND LOVABLE PERSON. :)